HiBy Zeta

iampidugu

Head-Fier
HiBy Zeta Review - Power, Precision, and Finesse
Pros: Its Technology: Dynamic, balanced armature, and electrostatic drivers in a three-way configuration to create a wide range of sounds that can please a lot of different audio tastes.
Enhanced Electrostatic Driver: Having an enhanced electrostatic driver adds a level of sophistication to the sound by making the treble performance more refined and clear.
High-Quality Construction: The titanium alloy housings, fine CNC machinery, and ergonomic earpiece design show a dedication to fine craftsmanship, making sure that the headphones will last and be comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
Spatial Harmonic Enhancement Structure: Setting up a spatial harmonic enhancement structure makes the sound more immersive, making for an interesting listening experience.
Advanced Acoustic Design: The five-way independent acoustic chambers and five-way electronic crossover help create a well-tuned and balanced sound profile that makes each driver work at its best.
Quality Cable: This earphone cable has an 8-core high-purity OCC copper fully-balanced litz wire, a true 4.4mm balanced connector, and a 0.78 two-pin standard socket. This makes sure that the connection and signal transmission are reliable.
Cons: Limited Soundstage Width: Some users may feel that the soundstage width isn't as wide as it is with other high-end IEMs, which could affect how spacious the sound is.
Lower Treble with a Veil: There is a veil in the lower treble that may make things a little less clear, especially in tracks with a lot of bass.
Disclaimer: This review reflects my personal, subjective preferences and is solely based on my own experiences with the product. It's important to note that this review is not influenced by HiBy in any way, and I have not received any compensation for it. As always, I highly recommend testing the product yourself before making a purchase decision. I'd like to express my gratitude to HiBy (@Joe Bloggs) and @gadgetgod for organising this review tour and providing me with the opportunity to share my thoughts on the product.

Product Link: Buy your HiBy Zeta here!

Starting off:

It's a dynamic/BA/electrostatic tribrid IEM with improved electrostatic driver technology. It has a high-performance balanced armature setup and a 10mm dynamic driver with a liquid silicone surrounds Kevlar composite diaphragm. A 5-way independent acoustic chamber and a 5-way electronic crossover are housed in titanium alloy cases that were made with high-quality CNC machinery to go with this tribrid configuration.

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The unit has a spatial harmonic enhancement structure that makes the sound more immersive. The ergonomic shape and size of the earpiece make it comfortable to listen for long periods of time. Eight-core, 100% pure OCC copper, fully balanced litz wire earphone cable that comes with the Zeta. It has a true 4.4mm balanced connector and a 0.78 two-pin standard earphone cable socket. For audiophiles, the Hiby Zeta promises a high-performance sound experience with its advanced driver technology, fine craftsmanship, and high-quality cable.

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Note: For the review, Apple Music (ALACs) was used as a source on a MacBook Pro connected to a Chord Mojo2 and an AQ Jitterbug. All tracks were played at the same volume level. For this review, please remember that I used the stock cable and the last type E tips. These songs were used for this review:
  • Wow by Post Malone
  • Carry On by XXXTentacion
  • Jiya Jale by AR Rehman
  • Moh Moh Ke Dhaage by Anu Malik
  • Street Dancer by Avicii
  • One Kiss by Calvin Harris
  • Get Low by Dillion Francis and DJ Snake
Bass:
The bass performance was deep, impactful, and visceral bass response is something that interested me move further. It finds a good balance between quantity and maturity, giving you a satisfyingly robust experience without giving up technical finesse. This bass skill is great for many types of music, but it really shines when used in metal and other bass-heavy styles. Although it avoids the problems that come with being too boomy, giving a controlled and clean presentation, the devil is in the details, "artificial resonance" that stays in the background that changed the clarity of the definition, especially in the kick drum, but it doesn't take away from the overall experience.

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The Zeta's versatility is clear when you hear how well it plays different types of music. It manages to keep a faithful reproduction of live recordings, with accurate impact and a nice, natural decay in the bass. It's called a "tactile bass with excellent texture," which suggests that it might not be right for people who want a lot of bass. It provides an interesting bass experience that suits a wide range of tastes. It works well with a lot of different types of music because it has good impact, texture, and adaptability.

Mids:
The midrange was always clear and open, and notes from low male vocals to sweet upper female vocals were played without any veil or compression. It sounded well-rounded and kept its clean, resolving quality even when there was a strong bass. The female vocals were captivating and emotional, with notes of clarity, fullness, and forward presentation. However, I noticed a slightly recessed quality that added to a calm and watchful coloration. The upper midrange lift made it sound smoother without becoming too creamy or lacking in acidity.

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The midrange representation of the instruments sounded great, especially the piano, which had a quick attack, a soft impact, and natural reverberation that lasted for a long time and the violin became a favourite because it had lively realism, vivid agility, rich texture, and transparency. To sum up, the midrange's overall performance and its ability to shine with some instruments make it an interesting part of the Zeta's sound.

Highs:
While still delivering complex treble details, the treble was clean and a bit thicker than neutral. It shows that the bass and mids are given more weight. It might not be the best treble performer in its price range, but it does a great job of keeping detail and extension. The fast, fluid, and clear treble made possible by the quad EST drivers stands out. This presentation strikes a good balance by being less ethereal and more restrained than some other trebles that use EST. The lower treble dip gets rid of sibilance, and the mid-to-upper treble boost makes sure the performance is well-balanced and flexible.

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The very fast and well-controlled attack speed helps to bring out the vivid details in complex percussions, making for an engrossing, immersive, and reflective listening experience. Collectively, it made the treble a notable and enjoyable part of the Zeta's overall sound signature.

Technicalities:
It has a huge soundstage that is impressive in both width and depth, making the room feel open and airy. The slightly set-back central stage adds to the feeling of space and lets me get lost in a clear, holographic musical experience that spans multiple sound planes. The Zeta does a great job of imaging, making sound layers that are easy to read and see that make it possible to hear second instrumental planes. Even though there is a veil at the bottom of the spectrum, the presentation is not compressed, which helps create a wide and deep soundscape.

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Wide separation space makes the high end of the spectrum shine, especially when it comes to rendering percussion. It also gives me a high-fidelity stereo experience that makes listening more enjoyable overall. The Zeta's resolution is impressive; it picks up fine details across a wide range of genres without lowering the treble, so the sound stays natural and believable, which is how I like it. Overall, the technical prowess of the Zeta makes me enjoy music more, and each listening session is an interesting and immersive journey.

At this price, it's a good buy because:
The Zeta stands out as a great choice in its price range. The sound signature has a lot of detail and refinement thanks to the improved electrostatic driver and careful acoustic design. The high-quality construction, which includes housings made of titanium alloy and fine CNC machinery, makes sure that it will last and feel great. With its spatial harmonic enhancement structure and high-tech cable, the Zeta provides an engrossing and captivating sound experience. There are a few small problems with the Hiby Zeta, like veiled lower treble, but the overall package and tribrid technology make it a great choice for audiophiles who want a versatile and high-performance IEM at it's price.

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Conclusion:
Zeta is a great audio companion because it creates a sound profile that is both dynamic and detailed, giving audiophiles a full and immersive listening experience. It had great treble performance thanks to its spatial harmonic enhancement structure, multiple acoustic chambers, and advanced crossovers. However, it has a slightly smaller soundstage and a slight veil in the lower treble, but these small flaws aren't noticeable when you listen to it. Fans who want an affordable, high-performance in-ear monitor that can be used for a variety of tasks should consider the Hiby Zeta. It is a standout option in the competitive audio market because of its meticulous craftsmanship, and exceptional sound quality.
H
Harias
Wow, Nice and detailed review!
iampidugu
iampidugu

avexploration

New Head-Fier
Hiby Zeta IEM Review
Pros: Well refined & mature sound/tuning
Quality driver performance
Authoritative and great bass
Built like a tank
Packed with driver tech inside
Comfortable despite its size
Cons: Technical capabilities could be improved especially soundstage
Average package inclusions
Cable
Vocals are somehow laid-back

This Hiby Zeta IEM Review was originally written and posted on my website.​

About the Hiby Zeta​

Company Overview​

HiBy is a company with a strong background in the portable audio industry, specializing in high-fidelity music players and audio products. Founded in 2011, HiBy Music, its main brand, focuses on the development of portable digital audio players (DAPs), earphones, and USB DACs. With over 15 years in the field and a dedicated team of over 40 professional audio R&D staff, HiBy has built a reputation for innovation and quality in the realm of portable audio devices.

Technical Specifications​

  • Impedance: 9Ω.
  • Sensitivity: 112dB/mW.
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-40kHz.
  • Max Input: 100mW.
  • THD+N: <1%.
  • Weight: 10.6grams(each earpiece).

Features​

  • Dynamic+BA+EST Tribrid Driver Configuration.
  • Enhanced ElectroStatic Drivers.
  • High-Performance Balanced Armature Drivers.
  • 10mm Powerful Liquid Silicone Surround Dynamic Driver.
  • High-Quality Kevlar Composite Diaphragm.
  • 5-way Independent Physical Acoustic Chambers.
  • 5-Way Electronic Crossover.
  • Premium Titanium Alloy Housings.
  • CNC-Machined Finish.
  • Spatial Harmonic Enhancement Structure.
  • Ergonomic & Lightweight Design.
  • High-Purity 8-Core OCC Copper Cable.
  • Fully-Balanced Litz Braided Cable Structure.
  • True 4.4mm Balanced Termination.
  • 0.78mm Two-Pin Connectors.

What’s Inside the Box​

Hiby Zeta IEM Review - AV Exploration (2)

  • Carrying case
  • 3 various types of eartips
  • 4.4mm balanced cable
  • 2x IEM protective pouch
  • Nozzle cleaner
  • Cable organizer
  • Hiby Zeta IEMs
  • Manuals

Review​

After spending weeks carefully evaluating the Hiby Zeta, I’ve come to view it as an L-shaped signature IEM. I don’t consider it V-shaped, particularly because the treble region isn’t as pronounced. This opinion is based on my experience with various V-shaped transducers, such as the Beyerdynamic DT series.

Hiby Zeta IEM Review - AV Exploration (5)

In this review, I used my Cayin N6ii and Venture Electronics Abigail Pro amplifier with Spotify and Tidal as music sources.

Frequency Graph​

Hiby Zeta IEM Review - Zeta Graph - AV Exploration

Frequency response of Celest Phoenixcall courtesy of Practiphile.

Experience​

First, let’s talk about the cable as it’s the first thing that bothered me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s made from high-quality materials, but I find it a bit too stiff for my liking.

I wish the cable had more flexibility like the Celest PhoenixCall, which offers high quality with minimal resistance. The stiffness causes an issue with the ear hook; it doesn’t sit properly over my ear and tends to float above instead.

Hiby Zeta IEM Review - AV Exploration (8)

Moving on, I must appreciate the Zetas’ build quality. Constructed from high-quality CNC machined titanium, they are clearly built to last!

I also admire the fit of the Zeta; although the shell is somewhat bulky, its design prevents it from protruding or creating pressure points when worn. However, it’s important to note that fit can vary depending on individual ear shapes, as we all have unique ears.

Music​

The Hiby Zeta exhibits a monstrous bass impact. This is probably the bass-heaviest set I’ve listened to in a while! Despite that, it features controlled bass that doesn’t bleed into other frequencies, which is great because you can enjoy the quality bass without sacrificing the clarity of the other frequencies. It’s fast, and the decay is on point! I particularly enjoyed this set with the latest ‘Godlike’ LP release by Thy Art is Murder.

However, when it comes to mids, I wish they were a bit more forward. This would make my listening experience more complete and engaging. Male and female vocals sound a bit recessed for my liking. To put it in perspective, if the BQEYZ Winter is near my forehead, the Hiby Zeta is closer to the back of my head in terms of vocal placement.

Hiby Zeta IEM Review - AV Exploration (6)

Despite this, the vocal quality itself is impressive. It sounds organic – just about right, in my opinion.

The treble presents a similar scenario; it’s somewhat more laid back than I prefer. While it still delivers quality treble, it lacks that extra sparkle and nuances. I believe pairing it with an analytical source, which I unfortunately haven’t done, might bring out a bit more energy in the treble. But that’s just my assumption.

Hiby Zeta IEM Review - AV Exploration (7)

This is the reason why I considered it an L-shaped in-ear monitor.

Gaming​

My only complaint about the Hiby Zeta when gaming is its limited soundstage. It doesn’t offer a wide auditory field, which means you might miss hearing cues from incoming enemies.

Overall, the Hiby Zeta provides a richly textured and robust experience during close combat scenarios in gaming.

Conclusion​

I can see how the Hiby Zeta would appeal to some listeners. It offers a fatigue-free and fun listening experience! However, it’s not quite my cup of tea, as I prefer more pronounced mids and sparkling highs in the treble region. Though, now, I started to appreciate this kind of signature, all thanks to this set!

Nonetheless, I’m glad I had the opportunity to try out this IEM and experience a sound signature I don’t usually listen to.

Hiby Zeta IEM Review - AV Exploration (10)

For those who already own a treble-focused or analytical set, the Zeta could be a great addition, especially if you’re willing to invest $1,399 in your audio experience!

JQuB3

New Head-Fier
Hiby Zeta: Thunderous bass in an elegant and comfortable IEM
Pros: Excellent Bass response.
Exceptional performance in terms of technicalities.
Premium build quality
Cons: Accessories could have been better considering the price point.
Large earpieces with thick nozzles may lead to fit issues for those with smaller ears.
Disclaimer:

I received the Hiby Zeta as part of a review tour in my country organized by Hiby. I was asked to share my honest opinion about the IEM based on my usage over a week or so. I am not associated with Hiby in any way and have no incentive whatsoever to write anything positive or negative about the IEM. The impressions shared in this write-up are subjective based on my gear and choice of music.

The Hiby Zeta can be purchased from here: https://store.hiby.com/products/hiby-zeta

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Introduction:

The Hiby Zeta is a Tribrid IEM with a whopping 9 drivers per side, which includes 4 Enhanced EST Super tweeters (shared converter) paired with 4 BA drivers for Tweeters /Mids/Woofer and a 10mm Liquid Silicone DD that acts as a subwoofer. The IEM has an impedance of 9 ohms and is quite sensitive at 112dB/mW. The max input power handling is at 100mW, hence making it quite easy to drive with portable equipment like DAPs and dongle DACs. The cable included with the IEM is an 8-core high-purity OCC copper cable with a fully balanced Litz braiding and comes with a 4.4mm balanced termination and 0.78mm 2-pin connectors. The pack-in cable is mighty impressive in terms of build quality and is very supple and free of microphonics.

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The build quality of the Hiby Zeta reflects a commitment to durability and style. The earpieces are made of titanium alloy with a CNC machined finish that gives the Zeta a very premium look and feel. Hiby Zeta prioritizes comfort with its ergonomic design ensuring that the earphones sit comfortably in your ears. Although the earpieces are relatively large, they’re very light and, hence, comfortable to wear. The large shells might be a challenge for those with smaller ears, but I personally did not have any trouble in terms of fit or comfort. The Zeta comes with 3 sets of ear tips in different sizes. I’d suggest trying all the varieties and figuring out which one works best for you. Personally, I felt the white tips (soft brace for deep wearing) were the best of the lot. However, for the purpose of this review, I tip-rolled a bunch of options and chose to go with Azla Sedana Earfit Max tips since they gave me a good seal and complemented Hiby Zeta’s sound signature very well.



Sound Quality:

The Hiby Zeta is a sonic powerhouse that offers a well-rounded TOTL experience with impeccable resolution. The IEM has a warm-neutral signature with the bass response striking a good balance between impact and precision. It delivers a satisfying thump without overshadowing the other frequencies, making it ideal for genres that demand a strong low-end presence. With the 10mm DD essentially acting as a subwoofer, there is good presence in the sub-bass region resulting in some powerful rumble. The bass response is mighty impressive in terms of texture as well, thereby, delivering in terms of both quality and quantity.

The midrange on the Hiby Zeta is clear, and nuanced, and has a natural warmth to it. Vocals, both male and female, are rendered with exceptional clarity, bringing out the emotional aspect of an artist’s performance quite vividly.

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The treble is crisp and extends gracefully without being overly sharp or fatiguing. It provides sufficient sparkle to cymbals and high-frequency instruments, contributing to the overall warm-neutral sound signature. Overall, the treble is adequate considering the overall tonality of the IEM.

I'd like to highlight that the IEM sounds great with the stock cable. However, I tried a few different cables with the Hiby Zeta just to see if it could bring about any difference/improvement. Most of the cables I tried (Dunu Hulk Pro Mini, Dita Oslo, Effect Audio EVO10, FiiO LC-RD Pro, Campfire Audio Super Smoky Litz) didn't bring much of an improvement, except for the FiiO LC-RE cable. I felt the Zeta sounded a little more balanced with the FiiO LC-RE cable, maybe because the gold in the LC-RE cable added to the sparkle of the Zeta.

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The Hiby Zeta creates an immersive soundstage that adds depth and dimension to the listening experience. The spatial representation of instruments and vocals is impressive, creating a sense of openness that enhances the overall immersion. Instrument separation is top-notch, as one would expect from an IEM in this price range. Even in complex musical passages, each instrument maintains its distinctiveness, allowing one to genuinely appreciate the individual notes of the composition. The Zeta excels in layering, with each note occupying its own space in the sonic landscape. This contributes to a sense of depth and complexity, resulting in a holographic presentation that is highly engaging and immersive.

From a technical perspective, the Hiby Zeta demonstrates impressive dynamics and transient response. Fast-paced tracks are handled with precision, and the low noise floor ensures that even subtle details in the music are brought to the forefront.

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Conclusion:

In conclusion, the Hiby Zeta IEMs are a testament to the brand's commitment to audio excellence. The impressive sound quality, combined with premium build quality and exceptional comfort, make the Zeta a worthy option for anyone who is looking for a TOTL IEM that is musical and exceptional in terms of technicalities.
V
vineetkrshukla95
Detailed and great review
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Harias
Nice review bro!
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SherryLion

New Head-Fier
The 9 driver beast! The HiBy Zeta
Pros: 1. Very detailed set
2. Crisp and vibrant treble
3. Good physicality and texture in bass
Cons: 1. The upper mid range doesn't sound flush
2. I desired for a more expansive stage

Review Of The Hiby Zeta


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Introduction


I've always known Hiby to make high-end and inexpensive digital audio players, as well as portable dongle devices and amplifiers. These products consistently garner praise and attention for their high quality and competitive pricing. I was taken aback by the Chinese company when I learned about their IEM lineup and learned about their flagship model, the Hiby Zeta, which I am honored to review today. But first, I want to clear up a few things.

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Disclaimer


*Since this unit tour was organised by Joe Bloggs, I am very grateful for this opportunity. And as I've said in all of my evaluations, the same is true for this one: all of the concepts I've expressed below are entirely my own, original ideas that haven't been influenced by anyone else. If interested, go to this link
*I am not associated with the connection, and I receive no financial assistance from anyone.
*For the remainder of the review, I will refer to these IEMs as “Zeta.”
*I am using different Ear-tips for convenience and better versatility.
*Finally, I will only evaluate the Zeta based on their performance, even though I will explain how it feels and seems physically and aesthetically.


Specification


The Tribid setup, which is housed in the Zeta, consists of four electrostatic drivers, four balance armature drivers, and one dynamic driver. The dynamic driver is a specially designed driver with a Kelvar fiber dome diaphragm encircled by a specially designed liquid silicone rubber. The electrostatic drivers are third generation Sonion drivers, the balance armatures are Knowles drivers. A five way crossover manages each of these drivers. The titanium alloy and stainless steel housing used for the shells are CNC milled. The brand name is engraved on one side of the faceplate, and the IEM's name is on the other. Both shells feel of the highest quality and have a premium, sharp appearance. The shells are not at all heavy, and listening with them for an extended period of time does not cause any discomfort or fatigue. The seal, however, was a problem for me because they did not fit comfortably in my ears. However, the fit and seal were both ideal with the proper eartips. The IEMs' included cable is an 8 core PCOCC copper fully balanced Litz cable, which looks lovely in the hand but occasionally tends to retain its tangly shape. A carrying case, a magnetic cable tie, two IEM protection bags, a nozzle cleaner, and nine pairs of eartips in three different types and sizes are included in the package in addition to the IEM and cable.

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Sound


I completely understand what the HiBy wanted out of this IEM, and it has already been achieved. Zeta is one of those IEMs whose sound, in my opinion, is polished and refined with details and nuances that help you get closer to what you want or what you desire. Being more of a neutral sound person than a person who enjoys listening to a sublime balance of sounds, I am the ideal person to judge this IEM. The signature is very detailed and I find it to be very accurate and responsive. The correct way to put it is that the response is more of a balanced signature with efforts in the lower treble and bass and upper mid range, which all work together to create a smoother and more transient response when viewed as a whole. Whether it is the treble or the mid range, I think the response is more approachable and clear because the notes easily convey information and reduce your fatigue from listening to even the slightest nuances in the sound. The lower mid range, which isn't really what I get discouraged with (I'll explain why later), is what comes to mind. So allow me to elaborate more on what I experienced.

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Treble


Coming from a lover of the Monarch MKII, I find the sound more and better detailed than the Monarch MKII, but I feel the tonal balance and the expansive and airy reach are better on the Monarch MKII. I'll start with the treble, which is very detailed and extensive but not as expansive as I prefer. The sound is detailed and produces sharp notes in the upper treble that aren't at all offensive, and this is where I find the vocals to elude into the higher frequencies before smoothly vanishing after a long, extensive stretch that a person can only just make out at most. In fact, the Monarch MKII cannot accomplish it as well in my opinion. When listening to orchestral tracks, the instruments, on the other hand, are more subdued with their intricate details, which seamlessly descend on the mix and elevate the experience with a wow factor. Since the vocals and instruments sound forward with the utmost clarity and details, the energy is more effective in the lower treble region. The vocals in this area create a more vivid image, which piques my curiosity about how the vocals can differentiate themselves in overlapping parts. The instruments, in particular, which really add a lot of crispness and sparkle sound so subdued but bring out everything. Although the sound does not seem particularly close or intimate to the stage, it does sound good to my ears. Although the lean quality of the notes makes the response a little flat, I think the Monarch MKII is preferable because it sounds more organic and natural even though it doesn't sound as detailed. Overall, the treble region is therefore presented in a detailed, understandable, and seamless manner from all angles.

Mid Range


Well, I have mixed feelings about the mid range because the upper and lower mid range don't suit my preferences, especially given how lovely and nearly perfect the treble sounded. The issue is that everything is subdued because the energy in the upper midrange doesn't resonate well with the lower treble. I would have preferred vocals that were more open and airy, but the progression left me wanting more clarity, and the lack of energy didn't satisfy me very well either. Although I do understand that if it had not been possible, the tuning may have had an offset signature, I still think it is lacking. The upper mid range sounds slightly less significant than the lower treble because it moderately brings the vocals and instruments forward. The dynamics aren't very smooth, but the flow is. The instruments complement the vocals well and help the response become more vocally dominant. The vocals sound clear and lively, and the instruments sound similar but with greater attention to detail. I find the sound to be somewhat muted but natural, and the lower mid range is no different. The lower mid range, however, presents itself much better in my opinion. The higher frequencies should sound natural and warm, and while the vocals and instruments sound dense and thick as they should, they somewhat fall short of achieving that goal. However, the vocals and instruments are clear enough for me to recognize them where they are. The best bass guitar slams feature notes that are strong, thick, and sound fantastic. Overall, the mid range region is presented in a natural, warm, and lively manner.

Bass


When it comes to bass, I just keep my focus and simply listen to the warm, thick notes that float over the entire presentation, sort of influencing the mix while still sounding very clean. The bass is impactful and subtle at the same time. By this, I mean that instead of slamming you with punches and slams, the bass lets you recognize them and lets them dissolve in the background after you let go of the subtle hindrance that initially draws your attention. The entire presentation has the feel of a live adaptation of a drama in which a character is introduced, developed, and then vanishes while still leaving behind an impression of that character. TI therefore didn't just rely on the graph to make this realization; I also listened to a variety of bass-heavy songs. Whether it's the kick drum or the toms, the bass notes are very distinct. The emphasis is more on the deep sub bass region, which occasionally but occasionally causes a subtle rumble sensation in the ear canals. Although the blows don't land hard or have much of an impact, the presence defines what it is and adds harmony to the mix. The same thing happens with slams and thumps in the mid bass. Although the mid bass falls short of the lower midrange and the midrange has a strong, enduring influence, it doesn't compromise the notes' integrity. The bass texture and details are overall very good and well established. Consequently, despite questionable control, the bass region's overall response is warm, effective, and detailed.

Technical Performance


Although I can say the same about the Monarch MKII, the technical response from the Zeta makes it a technical beast in its own right. It's not that the staging or imaging presentation is lacking or that the speed of resolution is poor, but the Monarch adopts a more plausible and believable strategy.

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Soundstage, Sound Imaging & Separation


The separation is very distinct, but in comparison, the space between notes isn't very well established, even though I can easily identify the source of the sound. The soundstage is far and wide enough to sound expansive and producing a more elliptical space. I am unable to say that the imaging is as precise as the Monarch MKII, but it is sharper and clearer.

Speed & Resolution


Although the resolution is excellent and almost on par with my Monarch MKII, the Zeta has better details, both macro and micro. The notes attack and decay at a rapid rate, creating a flawless presentation.

Sound Impressions


Sources


Sony WM1A - When heard through WM1A, the sound is more relaxed in the treble range and more pronounced in the midrange. On the other hand, the bass significantly improves the mix by adding more physicality and dynamics. Regarding the technical aspects, I did find the details to be more mellow, but aside from these, the technicalities were the same. The stage is more holographic and spacious, but only this is noticeable. Although I enjoyed the pairing, I wasn't entirely happy.

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Tempotec V6 - When heard through V6, the sound is more complex and transparent in the midrange, where the vocals stand out in the mix and feel more alive. The musicality I heard with the WM1A was gone, and the treble felt a little restrained. The sound was lighter and more analytical. Less hefty and organic bass was felt. When it comes to the specifics, every source felt better and more quickly in terms of note separation, attack, and decay. I thought this pairing with the V6 felt the best out of all the sources.

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iFi Hipdac - When listening through a Hipdac, the midrange was more noticeable, and the vocals came off as somewhat artificial and tinny. In the upper range, the treble sounded a little muted. Additionally, the bass was more noticeable, with more powerful notes. No other technical aspects were perceived to be different, aside from the stage appearing closer and creating a more personal experience. Although interesting, the pairing with the Hipdac wasn't particularly appealing.


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Tracks


Luna Haruna - Glory days
Luna Haruna - Overfly
Rokudenashi - The Flame of Love
LMYK - 0 (zero)
ORESKABAND - Jitensya
Marina Horiuchi - Mizukagami no Sekai
RADWIMPS - Suzume
Indila - Love Story
Indila - Tourner dans le vide
Earth, Wind & Fire - September
Tom Petty - Free Fallin'
Fleetwood Mac - Everywhere
Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit
Blue Oyester Cult - (Don't Fear) The Reaper
Guns 'N' Roses - Sweet Child O' Mine
The Police - Every Breath You Take
Gojira - Amazonia
TV on the radio - Wolf Like Me
Bring Me To The Horizon - Can You Feel My Heart
Bring Me To The Horizon - sTraNgeRs
Avril Lavigne - Dare To Love Me
Travis - Love Will Come Through
Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know
DJ Shadows - Six Days (Remix) [feat. Mos Def]
Lady Gaga - Just Dance
Lil Wayne - Lollipop
Flo Rida - Low
Sebastian Lopez & Flug - Electronic Measures
Federico Mecozzi - Blue (Da Ba Dee)
Wayve - Not Enough
Kai Wachi & TeZATalks - Ghost
NGHTMRE, Zeds Dead & Tori Levett - Shady Intentions
Zeds Dead, DNMO & GG Magree - Save My Grave
Skrillex, Noisia, josh pan & Dylan Brady - Supersonic
Skrillex & Nai Barghouti - Xena
Skrillex, Missy Elliott & Mr. Oizo - RATATA
Kaifi Khalil, Eva B & Wahab Bugti - Kana Yaari
A.R. Rahman, Javed Ali & Mohit Chauhan - Kun Faya Kun


Conclusion


As a conclusion to this review, The Zeta succeeds in achieving the best clarity an IEM can add to the mix for each and every mix-related subtlety. In my opinion, the Zeta is a strong competitor to models like the Prestige LTD, U4s, IE900, and of course the Monarch MKII. I wholeheartedly applaud the performance the Zeta delivers. Now that I'm not embarrassed to admit it, I wonder if your curiosity will be piqued by my craving for these exceptional IEMs.

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koyawmohabal

New Head-Fier
Boom Boom Pow
Pros: -Organic sounding vocals, especially males
-inoffensive upper treble, making cymbal decay sound natural
-one of the best bass responses I have heard
Cons: -recessed mids, coz yeah it's a v-shaped set
-Accesories not on par with some sets in its price range
-some shout around 5k region
Hiby Zeta - "Boom Boom Pow"
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‼️DISCLAIMER:
This was a review tour. Thank you so much HiBy Music and Edison Eiji Romero for giving me the opportunity to try these out.

Please cross reference other reviews. This review will based on my personal usage and user experience. Lets start

⚜️WHAT’S IN THE BOX?
Check my unboxing video here:



Honestly, the included accesories are not on par with the priced asked. In the box, you get:

1.) The iems
2.) Circular carrying case
3.) Thick purple cables
4.) Three kinds of eartips in SML
5.) IEM protection bag
6.) Paperworks
7.) Nozzle cleaner

⚜️BUILD and COMFORT
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The Zeta is stuffed with 9 drivers per side. 4 ESTS, 4 BAs and 1 DD.

It is Hiby's tribid flagship. The shells are made of metal and they feel sturdy to hold. They do look bulky but actually comfortable when worn. I didnt notice any strain nor fatigue when using them.

As for the design, see pictures.

One thing to note tho is the cable. They are thick and heavy and I thought the braiding quality could be better. And it's in purple. 😅

⚜️SETUP:
-Shanling M3X using UAPP, Neutron, Hiby ang stock player

-all stock cables and eartips

⚜️SOUND PROFILE
I made a final video review of the Zeta here:



The tonality of the Zeta is V-shaped leaning to a warmer signature. Organic sounding instruments and vocals, but you do notice the recession of the mids.

Bass is nothing but powerful. Slam. Boom boom yeah. But you know what? It's one of the most satisfying bass I've heard. Great texture and rumble from subbass. Midbass has a lot of nuance, and the overall presentstion is realistic and visceral.

Mids especially vocals are very organic sounding. When I use the word organic, I mean that they carry some warmth, because that is how I perceive voices in real life. Instruments also have this characteristic. Guitars sound full and yet crisp in the treble area.

I do notice a bit of elevation in the 5k region, which sometimes make female vocals shill, tho tolerable.

Treble is well done on these. I mean, I always aim for a more natural replay rather than having too much air. I didnt find cymbals to be over exagerrated in its timbre. Ride cymbals arent thin sounding and crash cymbals dont sound splashed.

As for its technicalities, the organic replay is one of its strong points. In the TOTL realm, most of the sets I have tried usually have elevated upper mids to treble to get a sense of resolution. You will not get that on the Zeta.

However, you will be blessed with a thunderous bass response that will shake your eardrums, enough to pulverize your 3-year ear wax hahahaha. They sound so freakin realistic that every hit of the kickdrum makes your heart beat with it.

❤️PROS

✅one of the best bass responses I have heard
✅Organic sounding vocals, especially males
✅ inoffensive upper treble, making cymbal decay sound natural
✅a cheaper alternative to the sony Z1R's bass.

💢CONS

❌some shout around 5k region
❌lack of treble air micro nuance
❌recessed mids, coz yeah it's a v-shaped set
❌Accesories not on par with some sets in its price range

⚜️SCORING
-Please be reminded that my scoring is always based on its price range.

TONALITY - 2
BASS - 3
MIDS - 2
TREBLE - 2.5
TECHS - 2.5

SCORE = A-

-generally better than other TOTL sets, but the price to performance and overall packaging might be something to consider.

Check my scoring here :

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15WhgCgiMzWfF3ccgB8SK5-Cg7m87kpIShtxsyg2u-AI/edit?usp=sharing

⚜️GRAB SCORE:
This is easy, I just rate the set whether I would grab them for listening. Very subjective.

0️⃣- I will never touch this again

1️⃣- I grab if I remember

2️⃣- Can be part of my rotation

3️⃣- I break my rotation and grab this one today

4️⃣- *** rotation, I’ll listen to these for the whole week

5️⃣- Im selling everything, I will only listen to these haha.

💥Hiby Zeta GRAB SCORE: 3

Yeah probably a 3. There are really instances when I want to listen to them just to have some fun with that bass.

⚜️COMPARISONS

⏯️Sony IER- Z1R
hiby z1.png

-dont trust me on this, it's a very feint memory. But the Zeta offers fuller bass response and has a more natural decay in the treble. The Z1R does have a cleaner bass presentation tho, but the treble can be a bit too much for some.

⏯️Vision Ears Phonix
zeta phonix.png

-this one is way more expensive, but the bass on these are pretty damn strong. A pounding you have never heard in your life. Get the Zeta if you can't afford haha

⏯️Fatfreq maestro mini
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-yeah, Fatfreq sets are surely the one to consider if you like bass. I have only heard of the Mini tho. What I can say is that, if you want bass that doesnt compromise the mids, better pick fatfreq sets. If you want bass with some midbass punch, the Zeta might be one in your alley.

🤔FINAL THOUGHTS
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It was funny I compared it with the KZ Krila during my unboxing video. I hope you read between the lines.😅

I did get what I wanted. And that is to prove to myself that well implemented sets sound near realistic in timbre regardless of tuning.

I did prefer the tonality of the Krila, but that's about it. In fact, this comparison doesnt even make sense.

The Hiby Zeta stands proud with what it offers, soundwise ofcourse. In my experience, sets with well implemented ESTs always deliver a more organic replay, especially on cymbal timbre.

Heck, the Zeta graphs very similar to some cheap single DD sets like the cra+ and cca lyra, or the Gimlet. But I would bet my Fuji camera if someone said they sound the same haha.
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There arent that many bass focused sets above $1k that shakes your eardrums like an angry mailman knocking at your door. Apart from its boom boom pow bass, the laidback and organic sound you get from these makes going to clubs a chore.

==========================
WHERE TO BUY: non affiliate links

https://store.hiby.com/products/hiby-zeta

https://hifigo.com/products/hiby-zeta

⚜️MY LIBRARY:
I grew up listening to 90’s music. Alternative, punk-rock, screamo, rap, Philippine OPM, Anime songs, JPOP, KPOP, metal, reggae and a lot more.
The artists I regularly listen to are:

⭐Rock-Alternative-Metal
Incubus, 311, BMTH, Matchbox 20, The Goo Goo Dolls, Paramore, Polyphia, The Calling,, Babymetal, Metallica, Slipknot, Bon Jovi, Coheed and Cambria, Deftones, Red Hot, Green day,

⭐OPM(Original Pinoy Music):
E-heads, Slapshock, Parokya, Urbanddub, Up Dharma Down, Bamboo, IV of spade, Kamikazee, Rivermaya

⭐POP:
IU, Yoasobi, Yorushika, Milet, Reona, Maroon 5, Coldplay, Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, Taylor, Dua Lipa, Oliva Rodrigo, Billie Eilish

⭐OTHERS:
Carpenters, Micheal Learns to Rock, Celine Dion, Bob Marley, Sitti, Daft Punk, Pink Floyed, Earth wind and fire, Amber rubarth, Sia, Yosi Horikawa

I listen to more, but I can’t just list them all here.haha. Just giving you an idea on what I listen.

Thanks for reaching here. Hope you enjoyed reading. :)
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NymPHONOmaniac

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: -crisp bassy U shape balance
-excellent macro resolution
-good micro definition
-good transparency and sound layering
-good imaging
-fun bass slam
-foward and clear female vocal
-open mid range rich in sound info
-fast snappy brilliant treble
-wide and deep soundstage
-great technical performance
-good construction and craftmanship
-good cable
Cons: -thin mid range
-boomy bass with problematic acoustic cavity resonance
-recessed male vocal
-slightly dry timbre
-thick and long nozzle might not fit everyone ears (not an issue for me)
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TONALITY: 8.5/10
TECHNICALITIES: 9/10
CONSTRUCTION: 9/10
ACCESSORIES: 9/10
SOUND VALUE: 8/10

INTRO


Hiby is a well established chinese audio company that is around for more than 6 years and receive multiple awards for their digital audio player like R6, RS6. While they are more experienced and focus in DAP making, Hiby begin to create IEMs lately and to day it is one of them I will review: the flagship Hiby Zeta.

Priced 1400$, the Zeta is a tribrid earphones using 1x 10mm liquid silicone dynamic driver, 4 balance armature (knowles&sonion) and 4 sonion electrostatics drivers with true 5-way crossover for a total of 9 drivers per side.

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Hiby promise a precise and detailed sound with tremendous technical performance so let see in this review if the performance and tonal balance match the price range they sit in.

CONSTRUCTION & ACCESSORIES

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The craftmanship of Zeta is excellent and scream quality and durability. It's made of thick metal with a mate finish on front and beautifull mix of mirror and mate finish on the back. The Hiby logo is particularly appealing to they eye and a proof of details caring in the making.
The shell size is a bit chunky but not gigantic and have a smooth ergonomic shape without any hard angle or edge. The nozzle is quite long and thick, and this is where discomfort or fit issue could happen if you have a small ear canal. As well, their no real nozzle lip so finding right ear tips might be hard even if personaly i'm OK with those included.
The 2pin connector isn't recessed in the shell but seem to use superior resin plastic that promise good durability, i never struggle connecting any cable and its not too loose or too tight, just perfect.
Their one little venting hole at the side of shell but its not enough to make sound leakage problematic and avoid driver flex issue too, which doesn't happen for me with these.

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The cable included is of good quality, its an 8 strands ''continuous crystal OFC copper cable with 0.78mm dual pin. The color is dark blue turning purple with a glossy finish that is very appealing to they eyes. Strands are thick and whole cable seem very sturdy, but some might find it a bit bulky or lacking smooth flexibility. I don't and really love this cable and don't think it's urgent to upgrade or sidegrade it unless you don't like its aesthetic or comfort. To be noted that the included cable is 4.4mm balanced, so, if i can nitpick something it's that it would have been wiser and more practical choice to include a modular version of this cable so the consumer can enjoy Zeta with a diversify choices of audio source.

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I'm not sensitive to packaging look but for those who are, they might feel a bit underwhelmed by this one since it's very minimalist and come in a small rectangular box. Personally, i do think the ecological footprint is lower this way, so its a plus for me.

Then apart the cable and round falst leather carrying case, we 3 choice of eartips including a hybrid silicone-memory foams eartips models. They all come in 3 sizes apart the ''medium brace'', which are the one i prefer for comfort and sound.

As a loaned unit, it seem it lack the included earphones protector bags, which is quite usefull accessory to prevent from micro scratch.
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All in all, I have nothing serious to complaint about both construction and accessories quality.

SOUND IMPRESSIONS

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The Zeta offers a balanced bassy sound with a U-shaped tonal curve where the sub-bass dominates and the treble sparkles gently. It's very open, airy, transparent, with bass that envelops everything by the back in a sustained but light resonance, without hard edge, without saturated timbre density.

We're not far from gently analytical neutrality, were it not for those raised sub-basses amplifying a vast presence of bass impact and projecting dynamics across the breadth and depth of the stage.

The warmth is limpid but present, it softened the the angles of lower mids instruments definition, it is organic in its macro presentation. It's not harsh or abrasive in the way it paints the presence of instruments, scene readability is easy without being forced.

The Zeta offers a high fidelity sound but also fun, the transparency is magnified there as well as the detachment of the sound layers are facilitated for the listener.

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The BASS offers a thunderous and resonant slam where the sub basses are more amplified than the kick drum and a little too excited in their dynamic balance.
If it weren't for the tribrid implementation, it would color all the frequencies negatively, but this resonance remains in the background and mainly affects the clarity of definition of the kick drum, which slightly lacks roundness and texture unless your source had mid bass dynamic boost (Hidizs S9pro is a good example).
The double bass will also be affected by this artificial resonance, as if it were too amplified and boomy in its release and not enough in its attack leading presence, I can't really perceive the strings drawn from the instrument unless high pitched and the texture can feel detached, which makes its sound sometime unrealistic.

Here, there is more quantity than well controlled quality and for me the bass is the main fault of the Zeta because it lacks body, rumble dense vibration and tactility.
It slaps hard and offers a wide impact in air transmission, but this tune is not part of the recording so the fun is guilty here and more suitable for slow music like Soul, R&B and Pop than fast and complex music with loud bass like jazz or rock.

Yet, the Zetas are very suitable for classical too. The cello, although neither warm, lush nor very structured, sounds very good and this resonance is beneficial to it, it gains in airy size and its articulation is very clear and fast, so we can conclude that only struck or drawn instruments will experience a harmful acoustic boom reflection.
You should know that on the low frequency side I am extremely demanding, I want his body fleshy and a round impact that releases his extension of the sub bass with a tactile and thick air vibration, so the Zetas are not at all bad in the material, their strike is vast and does not veil the set of instruments too much, but it is obvious to my ears that certain texture structures lack cohesion between warmth and acidity, as well as a delimitation of the contours of carnal presence, to be properly full and organic in his body.

The MIDS are very open and transparent, clear without being aggressive and the perception of the sound layers is not compressed, it's clear and airy but not very expressive or lush.
The question here is: would the size and the softness of the tone of the mediums have benefited from more bass bleed embracing and coloring the thickness of the fundamental notes of the instruments and vocals?
My answer is yes, but that would have veiled that liquid cleanliness and obscured the crystalline ability of sonic imaging, so those kind of mids will appeal to lovers of the Harman tonal target with a more accomplished refinement because the upper mids don't jump out at you, it's smooth without being creamy or lacking in defining acidity.

The piano is not put forward and offers a fast attack, diffuse and light in impact weight. The release of the notes has a sustained natural reverberation and the onset of impact is a bit muffled, not very sculpted especially in its low end as its high notes are more vividly delineated and textured.

The female vocals are very beautiful, magnified in the presence they go forward with a breadth of expression and an emphasis on their high textures, this can allow the listener to find micro details in the elocution but also to render this more abrasive presence, which will benefit the attack of the strings of the violin too during fast and complex playing.

Personally, I prefer my vocals with more warmth, body and less dryness in the angles of definition, but this boost in the upper mids is not too sharp or aggressive, it tends to dry and brighten out the tone a little, but one thing is certain: the female vocals are not withdrawn and capture the attention by the clarity of restitution and dynamic projection.

On the other hand, for male vocals it gets a little more complicated and here when big bass occurs, it can be more veiled or crushed from the back. It's more set back and flat in dynamic, likewise this spicy aspect of the upper mids causes timbre texture imbalance that can approach sibilance, which is evident when listening to the album ''Villager'' by the folk-rock group Califone.

And now my favorite instrument with the Zetas is without question the violin, which makes me believe that the engineers of these IEMs are big fanatics of this instrument too because it stands out in a classical or jazz ensemble, it captures your attention with its vivid agility, its rich and clean texture, its transparency not thin but full of air and details. Simeon Ten Holt's ''Cappricio'' is a pure delight with the Zetas, each bow stroke is clearly defined with an authoritative attack grip, noticeable string texture and natural resonances that stack without mixing or darken. The rendering of the violin is not colored with heat, it has a monitor type presentation but more open. It's clean, it's not gritty in texture or cutting in outline definition, it's realistic and energetic without being tiring. In short, a pure delight for lovers of this instrument!

And now for the TREBLE, which I think is the highlight of the Zetas, one would expect something particularly scintillating with the use of 4 ESTs, but it's not as boosted or vividly analytical than with the GSaudio SE12 or UM Mest MK3, it's more delicate and smooth without being the least bit dark, or lacking in sound information.
We are in refined, nuanced, open and airy high frequency territory with a tenderly brilliant rendering that releases the reverberation of clavichord, harp or percussion notes clearly and calmly.

The attack speed is extremely fast and well controlled, and will render the most complex percussions with effortless vivacity, the drum rolls will be enjoyable in their micro definition of impact and the cutting of these cymbals, hit hats and other percussions will be hyper realistic in their metallic texture devoid of grain or distortion.

It's captivating without being breathless, immersive without keeping us away from instruments, contemplative without ever being boring.

Again the transparency and cleanliness of resolution is emphasized, the instrument layers are detached in their singularity and lack no separation space, it flies above a more enveloped macro musicality, freed from air constraint caused by low frequency typed.

It is not a euphonic or thickened treble, unlike the low frequencies, it is not colored but smoothed in certain border of definition, particularly for the electric guitar which is a little more diffuse in the frame of presence.
The level of micro details is high too, but I don't think that's enough to consider the Zetas as analytical or suitable for treble head. There is more quality than quantity boosted, which allows a long and fatigue-free listening.

The SOUNDSTAGE is very wide and deep in openness especially without the bass resonance diffusion. It does not lack air and the central stage is a little set back to allow an impression of amplified vastness. The listener does not feel crushed by a wall of sound, he contemplates it in a limpid holographic way in diversity of sound planes.


THE IMAGING is very readable except at the bottom of the spectrum where it is more veiled. The transparency of the sound layers allow an easy perception of the second instrumental plans. It's anything but compressed, especially at the top of the spectrum where the percussion has a wide separation space and a high-fidelity stereo rendering.

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SIDE NOTES

With an impedance of 9ohm and sensitivity of 112db, the Zeta are not difficult to drive and do not benefit from a very high amplification gain.
But it's more complicated than that, because it is a tribrid with 3 types of transducers, including these ESTs which in fact benefit from good amplification with a low impedance output and also a DAC which will be able to extract all the sound information in a clean way, without background noise which could dirty the crystalline rendering of the ESTs.
I had very good results with the SMSL SU9 DAC+SMSL SH9 amp, because the impedance is close to absolute 0 at low gain.
The low-gain Moondrop Dawn 4.4 also offered dynamic and clean listening, with an even more amplified stage opening.
The Hidizs S9pro is an excellent match too, perhaps my favorite in terms of fullness of timbre, more fleshy impact of the low mids and dynamic expressiveness, surprising!
As for the pairing with the DAP Hiby R6pro ii, it's good, it's clean and transparent and also the bass gains a little body and roundness, the mids are a little denser and the highs quite sparkling but more tenuous in the extension of this brilliance and more closed and intimate in the spatiality.

Another factor to take into account, the beak of the Zeta is really wide and long, it can create discomfort with certain ear tips, especially if they are large and bulbous. The opening of spatiality and the articulation of the dynamic is very affected by the positioning of insertion. For me it was the KBear KB07 but preferred.

As for their sensitivity to cables, I have not done an exhaustive analysis of thousands of pairings and consider the one included adequate. Still, I imagine that you can thicken and color the tone a bit with a copper litz cable, I wouldn't recommend a $100 silver cable because the Zeta would become too cold and clinical and the bass would probably be even more diffuse and thin.




COMPARISONS

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VS KINERA URD (2DD+1BA+2EST-650$)

URDs have a darker, more intimate tone, lower resolution, and a less open soundstage.
The basses are warmer and less heavy in impact, in the same way their separation is more slippery, their attack slower and their body more dense and opaque.
The mids are less bright and open, have a creamier tone and therefore less affected by the dry side of BA than the mids of the Zetas, which are more boosted in presence, have a definition with more highlighted contours and a greater depth and width of the scene. . I prefer female vocals with Urd, because more fleshy and natural, less garish too.
The high frequencies are much more softened with the Urds and we even wonder we are even hiding these ESTs in this thick and abstract macro resolution in micro details, so the Zetas sound more crystalline, offer much more overall sound information and micro clearly perceptible details, have more scintillation and clean reverberation, in short, even if the treble is not aggressive with the Zetas, it is much more vividly resolved.
In terms of spatialization, the Zeta offer a wider and deeper scene, which underlines a lack of air and cleanliness of instrumental separation with the Urd which are much more intimate and closed to the listener.
So, no surprise that the Zetas are highly superior in instrumental positioning which have more space between them and a more precise and well-sculpted definition. Also the sound plans are better embedded due to a better transparency of presence.

I think it's obvious that the Zetas are highly superior in their technical performance, and although the tonal cohesion is not as organic and warm overall, it remains well balanced and higher in fidelity, therefore, more in tune with its price class than the Urd.


VS FINAL AUDIO A8000 (1x pure beryllium DD-2000$)

In terms of tonal balance, the Zetas are more U-shaped with more sub-bass boost, more open, clear and thin mids and a more delicate and brilliant treble. The A8000s are more aggressive and W dynamic, more boosted in the high mids and abrasive in the treble which has more bite and a more present texture.
The Zetas are more bassy but also boomy, the slam is warmer and less well defined in the low mids, the resonance is more invasive and coloring than the more neutral A8000 which offers a more controlled and rounded hitting performance, a definition of the more textured kick drum and the extension of the under bass more linear and without artificial resonance affecting the following of the notes.
The mids of the A8000s have a wider, textured vocal presence but the middle stage is less open and the sound layers can blend more easily than the Zetas. The timbre of the instruments is thinner and drier with the Zeta, the weight of the notes also lighter, the overall resolution is crisper but the contours of definition have less bite at the start of the attacks. Female vocals are quicker to sibilance with the A8000s, but despite this their timbre is more realistic, thick and natural, again proving the superiority of dynamic transducers in this area.
The treble is softer and more liquid with the Zeta, the angles of definition are more muted and the attack of instruments such as the violin, the electric guitar or the harpsichord lacks the resolute bite and the fullness of presence of the A8000s. It's more aerial and delicate, it sparkles more but with lightness of impact, the A8000s are more abrasive in the attack but less clean and brilliant in the natural resonance. I do not believe that the A8000 extends as far into the high frequencies past 10khz as the Zeta.
The spatiality is once again more open in width and depth, but not as high.
The sound imagery is more transparent and readable in its diversity of instruments with the Zeta, but more remote in its central stage and the bass is not as well separated and defined, remains that the separation of the sound layers is obviously superior with the Zeta.

Here, I admit to being a little destabilized, in terms of general sound information, it seems that the A8000 is of the same level or even higher, except past 10khz. The timbre is more natural although sometimes harsher than the Zetas, the bass is superior in quality and even seems to be expand deeper without the aid of an artificial acoustic resonance. So tonally I prefer the more energetic and cohesive A8000s but technically the mids and highs are more agile with the Zetas.

VS Unique Melody Mest MK3 (1DD+4BAs+4EST+BC (bone conduction)-1900$)

The Zeta is more U shape and bassy, not as analytical neutral as the MK3 but more open sounding and airy.
The bass is warmer and offer bigger boom, the sub bass is more boosted and rumbling but separation with mid bass is less good and bass line and kick drum is less textured, define, resolved and controlled. Kick drum get swallow by bass line or boom resonance more easily, which isn't an issue at all with MK3 that offer better attack speed and control and edgier definition of low end instrument and drum.
The mids are thinner and bit more recessed with the Zeta, timbre is dryer and tend to dominate in presence boost, which is strange to say since MK3 is very boosted in mids presence but the use of BC make the mid range more fowards and richer denser in texture info. The mids are way more resolved and transparent with the MK3 too. So the upper mids are more agressive with the Zeta and prompt to sligth sibilance with risky vocal like Sabrina Claudio. It mean some instrument can sound more fowards like violin but it will overshadow piano in background more. MK3 mids are leaner and fuller in restitution, resolution is notably higher and center stage is a mix of in and out of your head so it sound cleaner, more transparent and sharper in resolution of each instrument of same range.
The treble of Zeta is slightly darker, it doesnt dig up as much sound info, micro details and texture fullness as MK3...which is just unbeatable in sub-2000$ price range perhaps above since it kick out of water Fir Audio Xenon6 in that regard too. But since center stage is more recessed the treble feel a bit more airy and the attack snap more tactile too. The 4EST deliver marvelous treble with the Zeta but high pitch instrument resolution isn't as edgy, it's more about plucked string like harp and guitar, in that regard MK3 have thinner and lighter highs, more boosted in texture details rendering than sens of impact and physical decay, with the MK3 decay have resolution and sound more cerebral, cymbals crash exten longer too, without creating fatigue even if brighter in restitution than Zeta.
Soundstage is very different with those, put out the BC of MK3 and it might sound similat to Zeta U carved spatiality that feel a bit wider and more open and not as in your head as MK3 even if MK3 mix this in your head spatiality with an open stereo one.
Imaging is notably superior with the Mk3, which is like next level monitoring with extre precision and accuracy of each single instrument in a track, including bassist and drummer which are darker in restitution with Zeta that add bit of warmth in lower mids too.

All in all I might prefer upper treble of Zeta even if a bit understated and that's it, everything else feel from another league technical performance wise with MK3, but tonal balance is quite different since Zeta is near basshead U shape while MK3 is way more neutral and analytical.

CONCLUSION

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The Hiby Zeta are wonderful IEM that i enjoy quite alot, depending of the source pairing it can go from ''hum it sound good'' to ''wow it sound freakin incredible''.

The crisp and bassy musicality it deliver is both fun and refined and can even feel high fidelity in music restitution with bass light or bass less instrumental music.

This is one of rare IEM that both basshead and more mature listener could enjoy, and i'm impress by how coherent is the tuning of the 9 drivers it use.

Sure, nothing is perfect and bass quality purist might find the sub bass boost too much for their taste, but at they end, this add a dynamic weight that the Zeta benefit from.

In term of technical performance, the 4 bas and 4 est is the game changer here that push indeed the Zeta into high end performance, though the dynamic driver affect a bit negatively this incredible potential and EST treble might be too understated for hardcore treble head (which im not).

All in all, the Zeta is a very impressive offering from a company that is mostly known for the DAP making, and it promise great potential for next IEMs release of Hiby. If you are seeking for an alternative to 64audio U4S which would offer more bass boom and sparklier faster upper treble, the Hiby Zeta might be a logical answer.

Recommended!!




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PS: I want to thanks Hiby for being part of loaning tour, which i will continue to share with canadian fellows. As always, those are my unbiased subjective critical listening impressions.


You can order the Zeta directly from Hiby for 1400$usd here: https://store.hiby.com/products/hiby-zeta
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RemedyMusic
RemedyMusic
I hope this would come my way. I'm not basshead material, however, I sometimes crave for that ooommpphhh as long as it is clean bass. I know we have a tour for this, I will ask eiji of its whereabouts. Thank you for the review!
Mesteves77
Mesteves77
Hell of a in-depth review, this is gold stuff, especially the comparisons with other IEMs.
Thank you, and congratulations.
Zerstorer_GOhren
Zerstorer_GOhren
I'm still waiting my turn on the review tour for this unit.

senfi

New Head-Fier
HIBY ZETA: A V-Shaped TOTL


HIBY gave us the opportunity to review another top-of-the-line contender in the Chi-Fi market. This is the HIBY Zeta. Zeta is the sixth letter of the Greek alphabet. I don't know the meaning of their naming convention but sure, whatever works, right? I mean, Chi-Fi has their fair share of weird names, Zeta is a much suitable name for a TOTL in-ear-monitor.

DISCLAIMER:​

  • I have no affiliation with HIBY and have not received any monetary compensation during or after writing this review. HIBY provided this unit to me in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
  • As a non-professional reviewer, I aim to use simple terms that can be understood by both beginners and experts in the hobby.
  • Please keep in mind that the opinions expressed in this review are subjective and based on my personal experience with the unit. I encourage you to try the product yourself to form your own opinion.

PACKAGING​




The packaging of the HIBY Zeta is very generous and straightforward. Here's what's inside the box:
  • HIBY ZETA in-ear-monitors
  • 4.4mm cable
  • 3 pairs of narrow bore eartips
  • 3 pairs of hybrid eartips
  • 3 pairs of silicone eartips
  • Leather case

BUILD QUALITY​



Undoubtedly, the ZETA in-ear monitor boasts a sturdy and imposing appearance. The full-titanium design, with HIBY's logo intricately carved on it, stands out remarkably and adds a touch of uniqueness. The cables are very sturdy and somehow fits well with the in-ear monitor. I would've preferred an all-gray colorway for a sophisticated and neutral look but a royal blue cable complements it as well since gray is a neutral color, it will go well with any cables.

SOUND​


The HIBY ZETA features a captivating V-shaped sound signature that truly showcases its status as a top-of-the-line in-ear monitor. I need to point this out that this V-shaped signature is incredibly addictive. Initially, when I tried out the ZETA, they didn't strike me as anything special, just another typical V-shaped in-ear monitor. However, the more I listened to them, the more they grew on me, becoming quite addicting.

Personally, I have grown tired of this sound signature since it is quite common in the Chi-fi market, especially within the budget scene. Despite that, the ZETA's rendition of the V-shaped signature manages to stand out and appeal to those who appreciate this type of sound.

BASS
The bass on the HIBY Zeta delivers a powerful and dynamic punch that adds a fun and impactful sound. It manages to avoid being overly bloated or muddy, showcasing its impressive clarity despite the heavy sounding bass. Even with its power, the bass doesn't overshadow the midrange; instead, the midrange maintains its clarity and presence. Unlike many other bass-heavy options that sacrifice quality for dynamics, the HIBY Zeta excels in retaining excellent resolution while offering a thick and impactful bass response.

MIDS
The midrange of the ZETA strikes a perfect balance, sitting neither too forward nor too recessed. Despite the presence of thick and impactful bass, the midrange retains its clarity and smoothness. There is lushness and warmth with the vocals and exude a rich, natural quality.

When it comes to instruments, the ZETA excels at delivering a very musical and realistic rendition but it may not be for everyone if you desire a more neutral presentation on the instruments. It takes a subtle hit in terms of separation and detail retrieval. Then again, the ZETA leans toward to a more fun and musical sound rather than a clinical one. The upper-mids showcase impressive resolving capabilities with good luster and controlled brightness without any signs of peaks or harshness.

TREBLE
The treble on the ZETA might not possess all the sparkles and shimmer that some seek for heightened detail and boosted higher frequencies. Instead, it plays a safer role, offering a smoother and more controlled presentation compared to sharper and edgier highs. However, the resolution remains impressive and satisfying, especially for those who appreciate a more subtle treble punch.

The Sonion ESTs included in the driver configuration of the ZETA handle the higher frequencies, contributing to the overall treble performance. Personally, I find the treble to be just right for my tastes, striking a balance where it never sounds too harsh or fatiguing during extended listening sessions.

TECHNICALITIES
The soundstage of the ZETA falls within the average range in terms of width, height, and depth, yet it provides ample room for an impressive performance and sound separation. Despite its V-shaped sound signature, the ZETA demonstrates strong technical capabilities, allowing it to handle busy tracks without compromising resolution, while maintaining good separation between various elements.

The imaging on the ZETA is well-balanced between the left and right channels, enabling clear distinction of the instrument's location within the soundstage. This aspect adds to the overall immersive listening experience, providing a sense of spatial awareness and depth. You'll usually hear these resolving details on a neutral set, but HIBY managed to handle the technicalities well on their fun sounding boi.

TEST TRACK​


CONCLUSION​



Pros:
  • Very addicting V-shaped sound that grows on you
  • Midrange is still satisfying despite the emphasis on the lower region
  • Treble is safely tuned, it is not sharp or edgy
  • Very robust and durable build
Cons:
  • Mids are not the most engaging experience
  • Technically capable, but not TOTL grade technicality
  • Treble might not satisfy trebleheads
  • Cables could go for a modular approach to those who wants a more flexible option
Would I recommend the ZETA? If you are a musician or sound engineer seeking a top-of-the-line in-ear monitor for professional use, the ZETA might not be my top choice. I would instead suggest considering a custom in-ear monitor or a neutral pair that caters better to your professional requirements.

However, if you are someone with a budget for a fun and musical in-ear monitor, the ZETA could be a satisfying option to explore, because it's really addicting (real). Keep in mind that it might be a risky purchase for some, as it comes with a higher price tag that not everyone can afford. Personally, I find the ZETA appealing, and I would definitely consider buying it if I had the financial means to do so.

One aspect to consider before making a purchase is the lack of customization options in the package. The inclusions provided with the ZETA are good, but you won't have much flexibility in adjusting the sound to your liking outside of the box. Additionally, there's no option to swap out the cables, which can be a limiting factor to some. These factors should be taken into account when deciding whether the ZETA is the right fit for you.

Ceeluh7

500+ Head-Fier
Hiby Zeta Review

Hiby Zeta Review

Hiby Zeta Review



Zeta

Hiby Zeta ($1,399)

Intro

This is my full written review of the Hiby Zeta, which happens to be Hiby Audio’s latest flagship iem. This is Hiby’s first try at what would be considered an “end game” iem (at least that I know about). I want to thank Hiby for including myself as well as mobileaudiophile.com in the review tour of both the Hiby Zeta and the Hiby R6 Pro 2 (gen. 2). I greatly appreciate the time I’ve been able to spend with these two audio devices and I do hope that this review will help in making a purchasing decision. Truly this has been an eye-opening experience in getting to spend time with the Zeta.

Hiby

The audio company Hiby has been around for quite some time, since around 2011 and have mostly specialized in their Digital Audio Players (DAP) as well as smaller dac/amp dongle for mobile uses. Hiby seems to specialize in R&D, and it is evident in their products. I haven’t been able to actually test out most of Hiby’s products besides the Hiby R3 Pro 2022 as well as the Hiby R6 Pro ii (also part of the tour). That said, they have a very extensive list of Daps from the budget sector all the way to the high-end arena. One of these days’ friends. Hiby also has a very nice list of Dongle Dacs and even a few True Wireless to round out their product list. Truly it’s quite impressive. I suppose that I had no idea how extensive it was until I really dug deep through Hiby’s history.
Along the way Hiby has also gravitated to the in-ear monitor side of the audio game and actually created some very well done iems for their time. Namely the Hiby Seeds, Hiby Seeds II, the Hiby Crystal 6 and its successor the HIBY crystal 6 II. Even their budget oriented Hiby Beans was a nicely tuned bullet style iem which didn’t get very much attention but certainly should have. I was able to check out the Hiby Seeds 2 and I’ll be perfectly honest, the Seeds 2 is a fantastic iem that fell almost entirely under the radar. It is a shame because it is truly a fantastic V-shaped set.

End Game

I haven’t reviewed any real TOTL sets past the $1,000 price point, I just want to be honest. However, I do think that I can give a good account of just how well, or not, the Zeta is tuned, and what kind of value it is. One thing is for sure, Hiby is trying to nip at the heels of the best iems in the business. The Zeta is truly a phenomenal example of artistry, coupled with knowledge, coupled with skill as well as the ability to put these all together to form a product they can be proud of. Certainly, they should be proud of this one, let’s just get that out of the way right now. Surely at least for some, the Hiby Zeta will be an end game iem. That said, I will do my humble best to present the Zeta in the truest light that I can. The Hiby Zeta everyone…

Zeta
The Hiby Zeta pairs very well with the Hiby R6 Pro ii

Zeta gear used for review
Left to right: Ifi Go Blu / Hiby R6 Pro ii / Shanling M6 Ultra / Moondrop Dawn 4.4 / Hidizs S9 Pro

Gear used for testing

-Ifi Go Blu
-Hidizs S9 Pro
-Moondrop Dawn 4.4
-Hiby R6 Pro ii
-Shanling M6 Ultra

Zeta

Packaging

The Hiby Zeta arrived at my front door in a slick looking rectangular box with a neat looking gold on black design. Upon removal of the box top you are instantly met with the bold and beautiful looking Zeta earphones sitting pretty in cut-out foam partitions. The earphones themselves sit on one side of the box and the storage case box is on the other side. Now I am only assuming “how” the Zeta was packaged, as I have a tour unit, and nothing arrived at my door where it was supposed to be inside the box. So, if the picture I attach is not correctly “put together” than please forgive me.

That being said, I think I have it figured out. Anyways, under the earphones you’ll see an accessory box which when opened has a tray full of eartips. Hiby also added two little drawstring bags to protect the earphones, a magnetic cable clasp and a cleaning tool. Lastly, as you look inside the beautiful case you will find the cable. I realize I wrote this very dry but in truth the unboxing experience is quite nice after you are done uncovering all of the goodies provided. Is this a $1, 400 unboxing, and is it $1,400 good? I suppose that’s debatable. For what it’s worth I think it’s more than fine and the quality of the the accessories speaks volumes. Not bad at all Hiby.

Zeta Packaging
Zeta Packaging
Zeta Packaging
Zeta Packaging


Carrying case

Zeta Case

The case that Hiby chose to provide is a really premium looking leather case in a short cylinder style. The case has a fresh-looking color of blue and instead of using a zipper or a magnet to open and close, this case instead simply slides off and on. Really there is enough resistance and grip to hold and protect these very expensive earphones without worry of the case lid falling off. In the center of the carrying case is the brand name “Hiby” which is encircled by some nice-looking stitching. Inside is a soft material for keeping your gorgeous Zeta earphones protected and cushioned.

Ya know, I never use a case and if I do it’ll be something simpler and pocket friendly. Also, who is taking their $1,400 earphones out and about? That’s what sub $200 earphones are for. However, I digress, the case is more than adequate and truly suits the whole mystique and premium vibe of the Hiby Zeta. It’s a very nice addition.

Eartips

Zeta Tips

Hiby provided a slew of very nice eartips with the Hiby Zeta which I would easily utilize with some of my earphones. They give you three pairs (S, M, L) of wide bore tips that have a shallower fit and have a nicely firm flange. Hiby also provides three pairs (S, M, L) of some medium bore silicone tips which are a bit longer and fit deeper in the ear. The last set of three tips (S, M, L) are actually some hybrid silicone and foam set of tips which are also of very good quality. Nine pairs of tips in total and all are able to slightly skew the tuning of the Hiby Zeta. I actually ended up using the included straight silicone tips but did spend time with each set and even used some 3rd party tips. Other tips which I found nice with the Zeta are the KBear 07′s, the Tenmak Whirlwind tips, Dunu S&S Tips and the TRN Clarion tips.

Cable

Zeta Cable

The provided cable will either be adored for its crazy contrast to the colorway of the Hiby Zeta, or it will not be pleasing at all. This was an odd choice or a genius choice by Hiby. You have a strikingly beautiful iem of silver Titanium with textured matte silvers and a high mirror polished in artistic portions of the faceplate only to have a bright & vibrant blue/purple cable. It certainly wouldn’t have been my first choice. However, I like it, shows how much I know. I think it’s another nice addition and absolutely love the pairing. In the same breath I could easily see some of my fellow hobbyists looking at it with a puzzled glare. I think the cable is gorgeous and very well-mannered and it isn’t microphonic at all. The cable is pliable, soft enough, it rolls up nicely, and is just beefy enough to look premium.

The included cable is a 22AWG, .078 2-pin, 8-core Litz fully balanced OCC Copper cable utilizing a 4.4 plug. Again, Hiby chose the Litz braiding, which is nice to see, not my favorite but nice. Hiby promotes the cable as having a low resistance and a low loss signal transmission. Due to the fact that this cable came with the tour unit I didn’t swap cables and simply went with the included wire that was given and so I couldn’t test out any other cable combos with the Hiby Zeta. In my opinion it isn’t bad. Of course, we’ve seen seemingly better cables in earphones for much less, but it’ll get the job done and looks flat-out DOPE paired with the Zeta. To be honest I think it complements the mirror finish of the Zeta nicely and really helps the silver POP somehow. Very nice but I’d understand anyone not enjoying it as much as I do.

Zeta Cable
The Hiby Zeta’s cable is a striking

Build / Design / Internals / Fit / Drivability

Build Quality & Construction

Titanium is the material of choice which was used in the construction of the Hiby Zeta and judging by the feel and weight I feel that Hiby made a nice choice. They could’ve used any material at the price the Zeta is being offered for, but they went with a very light and durable material in Titanium. Titanium is actually quite ductile and has a very high strength-to-weight ratio. Obviously, this is a bit overkill for a set of earphones, but the material certainly looks nice and feels great in hand and in the ears. The actual size of the Hiby Zeta is a pretty chunky so to fit all those drivers inside so do be aware. We already know that there is a 2-pin connection at the back as well as one small back vent under the female 2-pin connection. The nozzles maintain the titanium matte texture all the way to the nozzles and is capped off with a nice metal mesh grill.

Zeta Build Quality
Zeta Build Quality
Zeta Build Quality
Zeta Build Quality

Design & Aesthetic

This is another area where the Zeta will either blow you away… or not. For me, I think the design is absolutely gorgeous. The entire shell has this matte silver (titanium) surface that is textured to a degree. Also, the faceplates have these mirror polished squiggly lines (possibly lightning?) which only cover about half of the faceplate and look so appealing to me. I think it’s a fantastic design touch. Truly premium in every sense if the word. Possibly a little boujie but also pretty tough looking in the same sentence. The finish of the shells offers this soft glow in the right light and is very smooth to the touch. Hiby also etched their company name into the faceplates as well which doesn’t look bad but would probably look better somewhere else. The Hiby box actually states that this is an “artistic” iem. I’m not entirely sure what that means but based on the look of the Hiby Zeta, I think I have an idea.

Youthful Vibe

The Zeta looks just as beautiful as they should for the price. Of course, under $100 you can find nicely crafted alloy metal iems with unique designs. To be honest they are becoming a dime a dozen. So, what sets the Hiby Zeta apart? For one, Titanium is a solid choice for shell material. It’s much more durable than a softer metal like aluminum which we often see. Also, Titanium is much lighter than a traditional Zinc alloy which we also commonly see. Of course, this is not the first, nor will it be the last to use titanium. I think what truly sets the Zeta apart is the design language. It’s fresh, it’s flawless and it’s very high-end in appearance. More so than many other premium sets within the price point. I think the design is very well accomplished. Now, is this for everyone? Almost certainly not. The Zeta has a more youthful vibe and a flashier exterior, so I do think it is somewhat of an acquired taste.

Internals

Hiby chose to add a total of nine drivers inside of the Zeta which is a bear to tune without coherency issues as well as a number of other problems which can arise. Not only does it have nine drivers, but the Zeta is also a tribrid iem. The Zeta utilizes a 5-way electronic crossover unit, and 5-way acoustic chambers. As far as drivers… The Zeta uses Dynamic Drivers, Balanced Armatures and EST drivers. The sole Dynamic Driver used is actually a 10mm Liquid Silicone with a custom Kevlar Diaphragm. Hiby also went with four BAs in total, all made by either Knowles or Sonion. The last part I adore as Hiby decided upon four “3rd generation” Sonion EST’s. Now, Hiby crammed all of this into a shell that is not larger than any regular sized iem out there. Don’t get me wrong they’re big but they don’t appear “nine driver” big.

Fit

That was a perfect segway into the fit category. Obviously, what good is an iem if it doesn’t fit you well? Basically useless. However, I can certainly answer this question for myself. The Hiby Zeta fit like a charm. Truly, they hug my ear as though they grew there. There isn’t a jagged or rough edge on the Zeta. The comfort is very nice for me. Of course, I have zero idea how the Hiby Zeta will fit you. I found the Zeta very easy for me to get a good seal with the included tips and it didn’t take me fiddling to get them to sit right. The nozzle is medium length, not too intrusive and long and not too shallow and short. For me it’s just right. I found isolation to be fantastic once a good seal is met. Also, there isn’t a whole lot of sound leakage happening either.

Drivability

The Hiby Zeta is rated at 9 ohms, with a sensitivity of 112 dB/mw. To be completely honest and slightly joyful, the Hiby Zeta can be run off of most any source. Obviously, I don’t have a smartphone with a 4.4 balanced port but every source I tried the Zeta out on had plenty of headroom and they just felt very sensitive. This is pretty good news. Of course, 99% of the time if you have the change laying around to purchase a $1,400 iem then more than likely you have a good source to drive them with. I found the Zeta paired nicely with more resolving sources but truthfully played well off of anything. These are subjective thoughts obviously.

Turning to the IFi Go Blu for mobile purposes I found the Go Blu to have way more than enough juice on 4.4 balanced. The dynamics were great; however, this was my least enjoyable source of all. Don’t get me wrong they pair just fine but the others were simply better. The Go Blu has a warmer and lusher Cirrus Logic CS43131 dac chip, but it also has plenty of driving power. All together it sounds nice but a hair warm and less refined off of Bluetooth and LDAC.

Dongle Dacs

Using my Moondrop Dawn 4.4 which also uses the CS43131 dac chip I heard a completely different sound. The Dawn has a more rambunctious and analytical type sound which focuses more on macro-dynamics and dynamism in general. I love these two together. Using the Hidizs S9 Pro I didn’t like the sound quite as much simply due to the ES9038Q2M’s sound when paired with the Zeta. Again, it sounds awesome but simply doesn’t as clean as when pairing with the Dawn 4.4 to me.

DAPs

Moving onto some daps, I began with the Hiby R6 Pro ii and its AK4499EX + AK4191EQ dac chips. The extra power was a clear indication that the Zeta thrives off of a better source and more power given. Running off medium or high gain and using Class-A amperage. Heck even using the Class A/B amping I was more than impressed. Separation and staging simply got an audible boost and the bass clearly tightened up. It is audibly obvious that the Zeta scales to the quality of the source quite well. Of course, the R6 Pro ii is slimmer on the low end without calling it slim… perse. Still nicely tightened and clearly resolving these two seem to pair very well together.

My personal favorite way I listened to the Zeta was with the Shanling M6 Ultra, however. I was in heaven as i found the tonalities of this source and the auditory qualities of the Zeta to marry perfectly together. The M6 Ultra does have a more velvet sound yet very resolving sound without coming across too thick or veiled. Butt it’s also so very clean with great note weight and transperency. Transient attack/decay seemed so exact yet also dynamically expressive throughout. The M6 Ultra has the AK4493SEQ dac chip which does wonders paired with this set.

All you really need

Basically, the Zeta will run off of almost any source and for all intents and purposes the Zeta plays well with most sources. Perhaps some are better than others depending on your preference. I can say for sure that better sources as well as more amperage will help to bring out the best in the Zeta. However, in the end all you truly need is a good dongle dac, the better quality… well…the better. The Zeta will reward you and your ears will thank you. Of course, I wouldn’t think that anyone who would be able to purchase the Zeta would also very likely have some good sources laying around. I would assume anyways. Truly a fantastic iem.

Zeta

Zeta
The Hiby Zeta paired with the Hiby R6 Pro ii

Sound Impressions

I have been beyond impressed with the Hiby Zeta and its ability to replay my library in this all-encompassing and dynamically pleasant manner. Truly, the Zeta commands the atmosphere around my mindscape that… all attention must be paid! This is one of those iems that abound in all directions with musicality and sound. It’s wide, it’s deep, it’s tall and the sound of the Hiby Zeta is quite infectious in the most engrossing way. There’s a richness, or a fullness to the timbre which can’t go unstated. Also, there’s great articulation to the details within any track I tested with. I hear a nice combo of detailed & dynamic, lush & nuanced within this 3D soundscape. The Hiby Zeta has macro-dynamics which abound and fill the soundscape in my mind, trult a fantastic listen. Let me explain…

The Hiby Zeta sounds like a slightly warm with a U-shaped sound signature, in that the mids aren’t overly recessed (in fact somewhat forward) while the bass and treble is still well emphasized. The tonal color of the Zeta is definitely warmer with a spritz of shimmer up top. Note weight is on the thicker side throughout but mostly in the lower half of the spectrum. There is a smoother body to the sound down low with a decently rapid attack to my ears while maintaining a more atmospheric decay. The Zeta has an altogether wonderful bass region. The midrange is lush, vibrant, and musical. The treble region is very detailed, non-offensive and notes in this region are bodied and snappy. The replay as a whole is very resolving with a holographic rendering of my musical library that I haven’t heard quite like this before. I hear multiple layers with fantastic depth of field. Truly a flagship type sound.

Zeta


Bass Region

The bass has a nice mix of quantity as well as maturity in my opinion. It has just enough boom and slam for my tastes. This isn’t some basshead type sound like I’ve seen reported in various places. No, this is a mature and fun sound that is prominent enough to color the sound and give off a wholly sonorous bass while also remaining kempt and clean with a bulbous leading edge and a natural decay. What I find most appealing is the smooth nature of the bass while maintaining this moist density. I find the attack to be on the softer side while there is a depth to the fundamental body of most bass notes. The harmonics in the bass region decays in a realistic way as well. There is emotion in this bass with tactility and this atmospheric unwind to the release of notes that makes instruments like percussion sound so enticing.

Sub-bass

The sub-bass comes across as pretty guttural when it needs to be. I find the sub-bass to be mildly deep but very condensed, firm and compact. The sub-bass presents a clean sound that creates an impactful and thick haptic vibration when the track demands it. Tracks like “Paradigm” by The Head and the Heart starts out as gravelly, dense and deep, which on a lesser iem will almost come across as a smeared mishmash of reverberant bass… yet with a bit of rhythm to it. On the Zeta the sound is defined, sharp, textured to the core and jarring in its resonance. Still, it is in control. Or Killer Mike’s new track “Motherless” off of his latest album which also happens to be [Motherless]. Friends, the low and thrumming sonority once the bassline commences has this droning resonance which is hypnotic on this set. You also have Killer Mike’s ridiculously fresh flowing lyrics that come across pristine over top of the beat. Man, the Zeta just nails it!

Mid-bass

The mid bass has a nicely atmospheric slam with a smoother tone overall. It’s milky friends! The mid-bass is deft and zestfully boomy when called upon. I don’t know how else to explain it. The bass slam is actually very fast and timely while still maintaining that elemental earthy decay/sustain. The bass is well adept to mimic any fast bass track with relative ease. However, in that speed is this juicy weight and smooth tonal character that’s buttery on the surface with an almost corporal mental image. So… Milky.

Very well done…

Abracadabra” by Young Thug has this deeper bassline that undulates with separate bass beats which chime-in with a repetitive sequence. Friends… one thing is clear; the Zeta has some oomph. That’s the best way I can say. The Zeta is great for hip-hop and similar genres. In this track Young Thug sounds perfectly separated from the cover of the bass with a layered approach which sounds deep and detailed. No this isn’t some analytical type of fast bass approach. It’s more than that. The bass is still pretty quick, but the control and density are what sets this set apart. There is depth to the bass, or a roundness that encapsulates bass notes which shows up in many different scenarios. Especially with instrumentation like bass guitar and even big kick drums.

Most of my bass guitar tracks found a nice home with the Zeta. I usually jump straight to the song “Groove” by Ray Wylie Hubbard. On the Zeta this track has this tactile, juddering, and simply dirty riff that vibrates and fills the soundscape with a very clean and coarsely edged note outline, just as I’m assuming the artist and the instrument intended. Clearly there is enough mid-bass emphasis to fill out the sound without being too full and emphasized. Kick drums also sound resounding hallowed out and full and with a tacky surface texture. Bass singers like Avi Kaplan or Josh Turner sound very sonorous and heavy bodied, but also have an organic quality to their voices.

All things considered

All things considered; the bass region is the “King” attribute of the Zeta. It isn’t the world’s deepest and most dense bass, or even the most authoritative for that matter. Frankly I’m glad it isn’t. Yet I find the bass region to be unequivocally mood inducing. For example, it doesn’t matter what mood I’m in, once I hear the beat drop on “All My Life” by Lil Durk or the glassy and punchy bass drop in the track “Heatwaves” by The Glass Animals it is very easy to get wrapped up in my music. There is a saturated feeling in the low-end that still comes across layered and macro-detailed. The bass as a whole is the main emphasis when listening to the Zeta but it never comes across as a detriment to the surrounding frequencies.

20230611_135122.jpg


Midrange

The midrange has this rather forward, or “not too recessed” presence that doesn’t have the slightest hint of veil or haze. Completely clear and clean in a warmer and smoother setting. You would think that in a heavily bass-oriented song, the rest of the mix may would be concealed a bit or masked over. Honestly, I never found this to be an issue for me. Even in these situations the midrnage still manages to be the center of attention when needed. They still manage nice note definition and a natural realism that sounds lifelike and still maintains this nicely ubiquitous and prevelant residence in the imaginary stage.

Nicely tuned midrange

Hiby knew exactly what they were doing when tuning this set. It’s a different take on what a U-shaped sound can be. I find the midrange to be melodically resolving, very polished and nicely organic and clean and they don’t need any bright rise up top to illuminate them or “bring them out”. The mids are smooth in body with decent texture at the surface.

You won’t hear anything peaky, won’t hear any sibilance, and you won’t hear any of that metallic timbre that balanced armatures can so often exude. I find the midrange to have a decently lush and musical sound which also remains pretty detailed for this type of tuning due to its great resolution and tighter transient attack and decay. Tight may be taking it too far actually. It’s more lifelike in body which comes across clean and tight I suppose. There is a lushness throughout yet warmer to a slight degree in the lower half of the midrange, while the upper half does sound more energetic with a slight shimmer.

Lower-midrange

There is a feeling of rich intimacy on the Zeta in the low-mids. They sound organic, natural and appropriately bodied. The sound down low is on the warmer side yet well resolving with a warm transparency.

Where I find God” by Larry Fleet is an example of the Zeta’s bodied and resolute replay while fostering the capacity to sound true to life. Larry’s voice has this coarse southern drawl that sounds sharp, whetted, yet also full on the Zeta. I hear a round circle impression of his voice. There’s depth there. The modulations of his voice have an effortless cadence. Now, his voice is not exactly up-front and forward but it is very well highlighted. I would also say that even with the warmer presentation there is still a sense of openness and smooth yet airy presence, as I don’t hear any congestion at all, even listening to complicated musical arrangements.

Lower-mids cont…

Higher pitched males, closer to tenors are obviously slightly more pronounced as in the track “Morning Song” by The Avett Brothers. I hear a certain crispness to the lead singers voice along with this 3D type amplitude. I could just say “fullness” too, but 3D type amplitude says it a little better. Anyways, this track sounds great on the Zeta, of course if you are into this type of music.

As you walk up the register the sound does begin to feel more lifted, airy. Almost like they begin to glow a bit more. Well, as airy and lifted as a warmish tonal character can sound. This unquestionably is not some analytical and dry sound. Even as we begin to walk into further up the midrange, the sound has a richness to it. Perhaps they slim out to the slightest degree as you listen to higher pitch males or females but always the sound has some milk to it. I would probably say that the lower-midrange is the weakness of this set for me as it is a little fuzzier (thanks Reddit guy, you know who you are) and not as defined as the rest of the spectrum. However, this is by such a slim margin that I questioned even adding it to this review.

Upper-Midrange

In my opinion females “steal the show” as far as vocals are concerned. There is a nice emphasis which adds a very clean and controlled shimmer to the sound. Samia in her song “Breathing Song” on the Zeta is a nice display of soft musicality meets strong vocal energy. There is a verve within the velvety richness of a soft female inflection on the Zeta and Samia’s vocals on this track is a proof of that. Her voice is slightly higher in octave, but the cleanliness and note body, coupled with this subtle shimmer and depth really sounds fantastic on the Zeta. Or Jess Williamson in the song “Stampede“. The emotion of the song is so well displayed, like in surround sound her voice comes across in layers amomgst the piano play and the deep bass guitar around her. Atmospheric is really a good word to describe the sound. Call it a smooth-vibrancy with sprinkled-in luster to the harmonics in this region without ever coming across harsh.

Instrumentation

Instruments in the midrange enjoy a semi-thick timbre. This is not for everyone. I for one usually gravitate to a more neutral sound, but that’s certainly not a concrete standard of mine. The Zeta is proof of that. In all honesty, I can appreciate and enjoy all sound signatures. This one happens to be a bit more on the warm side and instruments react accordingly. Instruments and voices which fundamentally reside in the midrange are generally thicker in note weight as the mid-bass spills over. There is an evident warmth to the sound that is very discernable and lucid while note outlines tend to be on the softer side. I wouldn’t call them soft in general, but they aren’t knife edged or ultra snappy. This takes nothing away from detail retrieval or resolution as there is space for separation coupled with a tighter transient attack/release. Perhaps texture takes a slight hit in the lower midrange, but it isn’t something that takes away from my music, not by any stretch of the imagination.

Instruments cont…

Strings sound springy with nice secondary harmonics and depending on the track I find it easy to recognize all the tiny details which arise from a string pull. Depending on the track of course. Bass heavy songs do tend to make this a bit more difficult but for the most part strings sound great. Percussion is lively, brisk, and has great energy to operate. Snares pang with a nice intensity and the fundamental tones of a cymbal strike are crisp and full. Piano has a mostly harmonious and melodic quality that sounds very nice too. For the most part. Again, if you are listening to a bass heavy track then everything does get drowned out a bit more. This is something to consider when purchasing.

Zeta


Treble Region

Now we come to one of the better surprises for me. The treble region is taken care of by Sonion ESTs, and they sound fantastic. At first listen I didn’t notice the subtleties within the treble region. It wasn’t until I sat down in a quiet place that I was able to critically listen and catch the quality of this treble. The treble is not overly pronounced or boosted. It isn’t overcooked or overcompensated. This also is not some sparkly and tinselly treble fest of brightness and luster. This is instead a treble that awards the listener with a detailed sound, both for the finer things in their music as well as a detailed listen in the structure of the sound. Each note in the treble region has definitive structure to it. There’s a nice defined edge on most notes in this area. I could use a bit more treble punch, but I do hear an almost saturated treble. Not overly dry and not forced. Resolution is superb.

The Zeta replays an artist like Billy Strings very well, as in the track “The Fire On My Tongue“. What you have is rapid fire banjo play which moves along at breakneck speeds and the Hiby Zeta keeps up with no problem whatsoever. In fact, there is an emphasis on each note as the EST drivers are doing what good EST drivers do. The treble has a nice command of the space around each treble note with a highly resolving replay. As though each note has its own atmosphere. Okay I’m going a bit too hard with that but it’s along those lines. Also, details are very easy to discern.

Safe?

The treble doesn’t come across peaky, not even in the slightest. If anything, it is more of a safe tuning. Hiby did tune the Zeta to have some shimmer but not enough to sound sparkly or lustery. I certainly don’t hear any sibilance at all, and I don’t hear anything splashy or any forced resolution. It sounds as though we are hearing a treble which leans soley on the competency of the drivers and their ability to delineate instruments in this region. I really did enjoy my time with the Zeta as I heard the treble region in a new and engrossing way.

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Technicalities

Soundstage

The stage size of the Zeta is rather large and full. Above average in width, height and depth, the Zeta gives a large soundscape for my musical library. I hear a wholly 3D environment that has fantastic depth of field. Holographic in every sense with great layering of sounds. This is certainly a “pro” of the Zeta as the soundstage is full, immersive and authentic.

Separation / Imaging

Another great feature of the Zeta is its innate ability to separate elements within a stage. I was in heaven listening to this set as I could truly pick apart every instrument no matter the complexity of a track. The only time separation wasn’t an absolute walk in the park and easily discernible was when listening to bass heavy tracks or very poorly recorded track. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. The Zeta is extremely resolving in every sense of the word but some things even the Zeta cannot get around. Imaging follows suit with the Zeta’s ability to separate elements within a stage. There is a clear delineation between instrumentation and vocals as well as clear markers from left to right and front to back.

Details

The quality of these drivers that Hiby chose to use inside of the Zeta are evident and the tuning and driver quality is really awesome. Here we have a fun sound. Think about that. Bigger bass region, big macro-dynamics, immersive, rich note weight. These cues aren’t usually markers for a set with good detail retrieval. However, in the case of the Zeta you will find this set is extremely resolving. There’s more though, any set can be resolving and detailed and usually that means analytical and dry. Hiby tuned the Zeta to be that dynamic sound yet detailed enough to not miss the minutia in a track. The Zeta has this 3d type detail retrieval where all sides of an instrument can be accounted for. Harmonics from the human voice carry weight. Guitar strings ting with residual harmonics as well and about a hundred other examples. I’d say the only time you’d be harder pressed to hear tiny details is in bass heavy tracks. All in all, the Zeta has very nice details retrieval.

Zeta
My favorite way to listen to the Hiby Zeta is with the Shanling M6 Ultra

Is it worth the asking price?

This has been a tough question for me. When I first heard the Zeta, I didn’t think it was worth anywhere near the asking price. In fact, it was my main complaint. I thought for sure this was going to be an uncomfortable review of my picking apart the Zeta at every turn. Just needed to give it time friends. Sometimes I just need to let the replay soak into my brain and coarse through my frontal lobe a little bit. I suppose this is why I take as much time as I do.

A lot of work goes into the production of a set of earphones, especially the top tier sets, and I don’t know how many man hours went into the final result of this set. I can tell you with 100% confidence that I am blown away by how wonderful the Zeta sounds to me. Truly. For one, it’s built like an absolute TANK, yet the Zeta isn’t too heavy. The Zeta is beautiful to look at, accessories are in abundance and most importantly this is one of the best sounding iems I’ve had the pleasure of listening to. Of course, this will not be the case for everyone. I had to train my brain a bit and I had to soak this set in and run through my library of music. What I came away with is complete and utter auditory joy. I don’t think I’ll be able to afford an iem like this until my children are out of the house but that’s my issue. For anyone who has $1400 burning a hole in their pockets and values what the Zeta can bring… It’s worth it.

Zeta


Conclusion

To conclude my review of the Hiby Zeta I want to thank Hiby for including me on this tour. Truly I appreciate how professional and kind they have been. I came away with a great feeling about Hiby as a company. I also want to thank you, the reader, for reading any word that I wrote. Every word I type is from hours of listening and is my exact thoughts. Now that I’ve said that I want you to go and read or listen to many other reviews. Get other perspectives. No two of us are perfectly alike. We all have different opinions and likes and dislikes, music libraries, hearing abilities and we all haven’t been down the same journey in audio. I simply want you to make an informed decision.

Thank you and please take good care!

Zeta
SynaestheticA
SynaestheticA
Nice review. Similar to my experience. I was part of the Aus review tour for this and still think about how much I enjoyed the treble from those EST's almost everyday.

It's hard to recommend expensive things to people. But with confidence I would say: if these are affordable to you and you want an endgame experience. Then the Zeta is for you.
Ceeluh7
Ceeluh7
Yes that was the only way it made sense for me to recommend as well. You certainly have to pay for those incremental changes... Lol. The Zeta truly is a very nice iem

originalsnuffy

Headphoneus Supremus
Bass Lovers Dream
Pros: Highly resolving, deep bass
Cons: There might be too much of a good thing when it comes to bass
So I participated in a HiBy tour of a new (and very nice sounding) DAP that also came with the Zeta.

I spent the first few days of the review spending time with the R6 Pro II. Finally I got around to plugging in the Zeta.

Now please understand that in general I don't really spend time with ultra high end TOTL IEMs. Most sound exceedingly neutral and are often on the boring side. I usually say to myself "I can get this sound with units that cost 1/4 the price".

This is not a boring unit.

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I fed the unit a mix of Rock, Jazz, and Classical. Most of the reviewers seem to focus on the Rock and Jazz. But I was impressed with how well it resolved orchestral music. Even when the music surged to a crescendo, on well recorded SACD material I was still able to pick out individual instruments, just like at a real concert hall.

If you like Rock and Jazz, the bass is terrific. I have a subwoofer on my main stereo that allows room EQ. This unit sounds like my Paradigm 12 inch sub. But perhaps the dial is turned up from midnight (neutral) to +4; which can be a bit much.


I put on a favorite jazz piece, Joe Henderson's Lush Life. On a lesser system, the sax can sound very reedy. With these, the Sax sounded like it was in the room but the reed sounds seemed just right.


A nice feature was the inclusion of tips for a variety of ear types. Not just size but also insertion depth. They did confirm what I already knew, I am suited best with medium depth tips (no big surprise, that is the average depth after all). I also confirmed that deep insertion for me is a bad idea. It is not cool to have to pull out tweezers to remove tips from one's ears. But I have been through that before so I didn't freak when that happened.

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These units definitely wanted power. The HiBy R6 Pro II drove them well. They sounded downright anemic with my FIIO Q3-MQA dongle; which also has AKM chips and THX amplification. The class A feature on the HIBy suited these much better.


Would I buy these? If my ship came in and I had disposable income like your basic oligarch, well yes.

I have only purchased two IEMs in the $300 class let alone $1300 class.


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The technicals for this unit seemed just right to my point of view. The sound stage was good but not ginormous. Frankly when I hear something described as holographic it sounds to me a bit like somebody went crazy with the DSP. I just want my IEMs to sound like live music or the studio where things were recorded. And these did that. One might want to EQ the bass down a few db, just sayin.

But these are worth a listen. Maybe even a purchase.
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kesobie

100+ Head-Fier
HiBy Zeta: The Bass That Shook The World
Pros: One of the most fun sounding TOTL
Powerful, tactile and punchy bass
Superb, confident build quality
Generous amount of inclusions
Relatively easy to drive
Great seal
Comfortable fit
Great coherency between the drivers
Cons: Potentially too much midbass
Mids aren’t the most engaging or nuanced
Lacking sparkle and air (treblehead nitpick)
Not the most technical or most detailed for the price
Cable might be too hefty
Air pressure/suction effect is near unbearable
Not the cleanest sound
Non-modular cable (nitpick)
Not the best value

Hiby Zeta Review: The Bass That Shook The World

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WATCH MY UNBOXING HERE

PRICE: $1400 (PHP. 72,000.00)

PROS:

  • One of the most fun sounding TOTL
  • Powerful, tactile and punchy bass
  • Superb, confident build quality
  • Generous amount of inclusions
  • Relatively easy to drive
  • Great seal
  • Comfortable fit
    Great coherency between the drivers

CONS:
  • Potentially too much midbass
  • Mids aren’t the most engaging or nuanced
  • Lacking sparkle and air (treblehead nitpick)
  • Not the most technical or most detailed for the price
  • Cable might be too hefty
  • Air pressure/suction effect is near unbearable
  • Not the cleanest sound
  • Non-modular cable (nitpick)
  • Not the best value

WHO THIS UNIT IS FOR:
  • BASSHEADS who like tactile, thumpy and engaging bass
  • People who want a fun-sounding but technically capable IEM
  • People who like a confident, solid and high quality build
  • People who are looking for a good multidriver implementation

WHO THIS UNIT ISN’T FOR
  • People who hate bass
  • People who want a neutral, “reference-like” tuning
  • People who want the best techs for the price
  • People who want a crisp, clear, and open midrange

MY RECOMMENDED GENRES:
  • Rock (emphasis on guitars with heavy distortion)
  • R&B
  • Funk
  • Disco

SHORT REVIEW:
The Hiby Zeta provides some of the most tactile, fun, and energetic bass presentation complimented with a generally uncompromised midrange and an elevated and non-fatiguing treble for its price. Techs are surprisingly impressive for its tuning but suffer in certain aspects because of it. However, it definitely leaves a lot more to be desired for the price with its offerings and technical ability as well as the fact that it fills a niche in a steep price point. A one trick, bass pony if you will. RECOMMENDED WITH CAVEATS

FULL REVIEW:

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TOTL or Top of the Line products in any hobby always cater to the most dedicated (or richest) and often depict the pinnacle of what you can get for your money. While not always true, there are some stigmas built up for such products of magnitude. One of these stigmas is a rather safe tuning that aims to reproduce music in the most neutral or reference manner. But today, we’ll be taking a look at a TOTL IEM from a brand known for their music players that defy the usual conventions for tuning and whether they succeeded in creating something different but appropriate for its price.

DISCLAIMER: This unit was provided by Hiby as a part of their spring tour managed by @Joe Bloggs. I am eternally grateful for this opportunity. However, I am not affiliated, paid, or compensated in any way to review this product. All my thoughts and opinions about the products are unbiased by the facts previously mentioned.

Audio is a very subjective hobby and as much as I try to objectively explain my thoughts and opinions, your mileage will vary. My preferences will also affect how I perceive the gear that I review. Sources and other accessories will also modify your experience. Lastly, my reviews should always be used only as a guide and not as the definitive bible. Trust your ears to know what’s good.


SOURCES USED:
  • Zishan U1 (AKM variant, used with a 4.4 to 3.5 adaptor)
  • Hiby R6 Pro II (Balanced 4.4, Low Gain, Class A)
  • Not-by-VE Avani
  • Non-HiFi Sources (Huawei Nova 7 SE, iPhone 5s)

TRACKS USED:
A mixture of lossy, lossless and Hi-Res files will be used to give a general overview of the different formats in which the gear will be used.

Docs file explaining each track and what to look for: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1oMa7GPLaqtpnnoR9tixvWI4aK-7tXMyTEZCJAVkIZx0/edit

Spotify Playlist:

PREFERENCES:
I currently prefer a lot of R&B, Indie, Funk and Adult Contemporary. However, I am very flexible with the music that I listen to and always try to look for the best genres for the gear.

ACCESSORIES USED:

Tips:
  • Stock Shallow Fit Tips (S,M)
  • Stock Deep Fit Tips (S,M)
  • Stock Medium Brace Tips (S,M)
  • TRI Claron (S,M)
  • Newbees (S,M)

Cable:
  • Stock Cable in 4.4mm
  • Jcally PJ2 in 3.5mm

NOTE:
The best fitting out and sounding out of the stock tips were the medium brace tips akin to the KBEar07. The Shallow Fit tips were prone to popping out of my ears while the Deep Fit tips induced the vacuum effect

Hiby isn’t the first brand you think of when it comes to IEMs. They’re more known for their portable players and DACs like the Hiby R2, R5, R6 and FC series. However, they’ve released quite a few in the past with varying degrees of success. You have the likes of the Crystal 6, the Thor, and the Lasya to name a few. The Zeta is currently their most expensive IEM to date, priced at $1399 and calls itself “The Most Revolutionary IEM Flagship”. Let’s see if that statement has merit or is merely just a marketing ploy.

SPECIFICATIONS:
  • Price: $1,399.00 USD
  • Impedance: 9ohms
  • Sensitivity: 112 db/mw
  • Frequency Range: 20hz to 40khz
  • Cable Length: 1.25m
  • Cable Material: Continuous Crystal OFC Copper (PCOCC)
  • THD: <1%
  • Weight: 10.6g
  • Cable Type: 0.78 2 pin detachable

UNBOXING:

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The unboxing of the Hiby Zeta is a nice balance of minimalist and extravagant. You are met with a nice, large shoe-box style packaging with HIby Zeta printed along with the words “Tri-Hybrid | Quad-EST | Penta-way Fullrange Artistic IEM. Quite the odd choice to call it an artistic IEM but that’s what they chose, I guess. at the front with golden shapes akin to either the number 7 or a lightning bolt which is a recurring motif for the Zeta. Under the box shows some contact details in multiple languages that include English, Chinese, and Japanese.

Removing the outer sleeves reveals a more minimalist box with the same prints as the sleeve up front on the top and sides and an overall clean black color on the rest of the box with a thin silver print that frames every side.

Opening this box reveals a small cardboard infographics of the Hiby Zeta with an illustration of the IEM printed on the left and some specifications printed on the right. The IEMs are vectorized with a nice golden stroke that evokes a sense of luxury which is something you expect to see at this price point. On the other side of the cardboard is the frequency response graph as well as more specifications of the Zeta.

Finally, we are in the presence of…nothing? Well, at least for my unit, the Zeta seem to have fallen out of their cardboard thrones deeper into their palace. That definitely sparks up some concern regarding the stability of the unit if it’s that easy for the IEM to fall into the case. Anyways, you can also see the box that contains the storage bag or the carrying pouch of the IEM that holds the cable and some protective pouches. Pulling the cardboard throne of the Zeta’s then reveals the accessories that include the tips.

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In total, the Zeta comes with the following:
  • Zeta IEMs
  • 8-Core Cable
  • 8 Pairs of tips + 1 Pair pre-applied
  • 2 Breathable net-like protective pouches
  • Leather Puck-style Case

The tips included with the Zeta’s are the following:
  • 3 pairs of Enhanced-Brace for Shallow Fitting
  • 3 Pairs of Soft Brace for Deep Wearing
  • 3 Pairs of Medium Brace for Most Situations

The Enhanced-Brace are akin to symbios as they are a hybrid silicone/foam style of ear tips. The soft brace is your run-of-the-mill narrow bored tips with a nice and soft dome while the medium brace is the tried and tested KBEar/AET07.

Overall, it’s an unboxing that is worthy of being in the TOTL. However, I am slightly spoiled with the overly extravagant unboxing experience that I had with the Letshuoer Cadenza 12 which left me feeling slightly underwhelmed with the unboxing of the Zeta. Inclusions are definitely more than enough, but I do wish there were a little bit more in terms of distinctiveness to make the Zeta stand out in the unboxing and inclusion department.

BUILD AND FIT:

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Cable:
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The Zeta’s come bundled with a fully balanced 4.4mm PCOCC 8-core continuous crystal OFC Copper with a PVC sheath that imbues Lapis Lazuli in the insulation of the cable.

The color of the cable is quite pretty despite somewhat looking bland. The shade of blue is very blue, more so in real life. But you can see some detail put into the cable that gives it character rather than just some basic blue 8-core cable. This could definitely be thanks to the Lapis Lazuli, but I genuinely do not care what material you use to color your cables as long as it looks good and isn’t toxic.


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The cable overall feels and is built very well and much deserving to be paired with such an expensive IEM. It has just the right amount of stiffness to be sturdy while also being malleable enough to be stored. However, it’s definitely on the weighty side thanks to it being an 8-core and is definitely stiffer than most 4-cores that I’ve tried. However, I found some inconsistencies with the braiding especially when rodey wrapped. There would be protrusions of some strands that may or may not be problematic for those sensitive to the aesthetics of their IEM.

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I’m also quite disappointed that they only shipped the Zeta with a balanced output and not a modular cable as I honestly think that at this price point, providing a modular cable for an IEM regardless of its scalability should be commonplace.

The chin cinch of the Zeta is definitely on the stiffer side which means that there is a level of secureness in keeping that cable cinched on your chin but also being a little too stiff that it ends up being a chore to pull down. It isn’t as tedious as the likes of the 7hz Legato, but it’s much more than I prefer.

Microphonics is generally well-controlled thanks to its thicker nature being able to absorb external noises rather than transmit them to the transducers. However, I should mention that microphonics and the occlusion effect have a strong connection and no matter how well done the cable is in that regard, if the IEM has a really bad occlusion effect then microphonics will always be present. That is the case with the Zeta, unfortunately, but I will expound on this further in its own section.

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The earhook is also shaped somewhat awkwardly as it doesn’t really hook into my ears due to its size, but maybe people with larger ears might find it to just be adequate. Besides, you can just heatgun/blow dryer it to fit your ear anyway (or cut it if you’re a maniac).

Overall, it’s quite a pretty and quite impressive cable with a solid and premium build that is slightly barred by its lack of modularity. I will say though that the overall pairing with the Zeta feels like a second thought more than a proper pairing as I’d argue that the blue doesn’t really compliment the industrial silver design of the Zeta. Speaking of which;

IEM:

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The Zeta uses a tribrid, 5-way electric crossover that includes 4 3rd generation Sonion ESTs, 4 BAs from Knowles and Sonion and 1 custom Kelvar Diaphragm LCP Dynamic Driver housed in a Titanium Alloy Shell.

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The very first thing that came out to me upon holding the Zeta’s were how surprisingly light they were. I did my research prior and expected the Zeta’s to feel like a dumbbell with how “heavy” 9 drivers per side housed in a titanium alloy sounds. I was gladly surprised to find out that the Zeta’s were light, lighter than some zinc alloy single DD’s in fact! And it’s weight does not mean it does not feel premium.

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It feels very smooth and refined to the touch with its semi-gloss, somewhat frosted inner finish and the lightning motif printed atop a glossy surface. You can also find the word Hiby embossed into the faceplate which, whether you’re a fan or not, can’t deny how bold and well-made it looks. The sides of the IEM are generally bare with Zeta’s name seen on the bottom side of the nozzle, the serial number, a vent across the vent side, and the 2-pins with indicators on the top side. The inner shell then sports a rather smooth curvature that is neither aggressive nor nonexistent in terms of the wing. The nozzle is a separate part of the IEM and looks somewhat odd but does look good on certain angles. You can also see a distinct lack of a pressure relief vent across the driver's side which often means trouble for an ear like mine that cannot handle air pressure build-up.

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Comfort is surprisingly good considering the number of drivers it has. It reminded me of the Letshuoer Galileo in fitting as I think the size of both IEMs are quite similar (although I do not have a picture to compare). The less aggressive wing definitely helps in making it a much more comfortable IEM to wear over long periods of time. I also never found an issue putting the IEM in with the tips included with the Zeta, which is why I ended up using those tips for the rest of my review.

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However, due to the lack of pressure vents, air pressure build up is bordering unbearable for me. It wasn’t as bad as some IEMs like the TRI Starsea, but it exhibits the phenomenon to a degree where I need to constantly readjust the fitting in order to get a proper seal without the vacuum effect. This also affects the occlusion of the IEM as I found myself hearing a lot of the external haptics such as my jaw moving, cable moving, and walking around which has a rather negative effect on the sound whenever you aren’t stationary. I tried changing tips and no matter what I picked, it always exhibited such an issue.


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Seal however was good due to this. Having 9 drivers and a tribrid does leave quite little room for leakage in which the Zeta is able to exhibit a good sense of passive noise cancellation.

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Overall, it’s a fantastically built IEM with great fitting and the unfortunate side effect of pressure build-up due to its nature. The aesthetics is definitely an acquired taste for those who like this somewhat edgy, extravagant design thanks to its lightning motif and massive Hiby embossed. Regardless, solid build and fit.


SOUND:

Hiby Zeta Frequency Response from Elise Audio's squig.link


Sound Signature:

The Zeta is fundamentally a musical IEM. It has a slight U-shape sound signature with a LOT of bass emphasis and energy, slightly recessed but still clear mids, and an elevated treble with good microdetail retrieval.

Driving Power:
It can run out of a smartphone, but it LOVES power and scales very well with power. Throwing this to a more powerful source will make it absolutely sing and make the treble even smoother while evening out the midrange more.

BASS:
This is by far the absolute best thing about the Zeta that made me call it an anti-TOTL TOTL. The bass goes quite deep with a very tactile and punchy presentation to tickle your ears just the right way.

The sub bass, while not the deepest or heaviest, is quite impactful with heaps of slam to let you know and feel the bass when it hits. The quality of the rumble is also quite respectable with notes retaining their nuance while delivering hard-hitting drops. This is definitely a bass that bassheads will adore, which means those who dislike heaps of sub bass will probably want to turn away from this bass beast.

The midbass however is arguably why you want to get the Zeta. This is, by far, the punchiest, most textured and most tactile bass I’ve heard in any IEM. I was seriously blown away with how much detail and nuance I got from listening to songs with usually mellow midbass detailing where the Zeta lets you be endowed in every single pluck, punch, and kick. However, this is arguably something that only those who seek the heavenly bass would love as even I found the midbass a little much. It’s not bloated or muddy in any sense which seriously surprised me. It was a well-controlled, speedy bass with a tasteful decay to allow for trailing notes to give that tactility. Quantity however is quite definitely far north of neutral which means openness in the midbass leading to the lower mids will have a clear compromise that I will mention soon. Regardless, this is seriously one of the most dynamic-sounding bass presentation that I’ve heard which I did not expect, especially coming from a brand like Hiby.

A perfect example of this is Michael Jackson’s Get on The Floor which was actually what led me to use this track to determine the punchiness, texture and tactility of an IEM in the first place. This was my definitive perfect set to bring out the detail in the bass guitar and kick drum that I did not hear in IEMs prior. It was so rich, so nuanced and characterized that I’ve found nowhere else.

MIDS:
This is the region where I expected the Zeta to take the biggest hit as from my experience, giving your IEM a bass that prominent and powerful will kill midrange clarity, openness, and coherency. Surprisingly, not quite.

Starting with the midbass, this is where the Zeta took the biggest hit. While still generally close to neutral, there is a considerable coloration to the tonality of the Zeta’s lower mids. Vocals have a thicker, more organic note weight and are musical with instruments having an overall sense of depth and body. Detail and nuance were surprisingly good despite the emphasized midbass but arguably note definition took a considerable hit as instruments that exhibit weight more than bass tended to sound a little bit less nuanced compared to the much bassier instruments. Vocals in this region tend to have a little bit of a colored tint to them that I would say doesn’t really take much away from the naturalness of the vocals but instead affects openness and cleanliness in the presentation. Instruments fall about under a similar quality but with better nuance as electric guitars have this grungy, gritty quality that gives it a lot of character that admittedly fights for emphasis against the vocals. The higher up it goes, the more evident the recession is as well. But I would say it handles the recession well more so than the coloration and openness of the lower mids.

Upper mids on the other hand fair a little bit better. It is still quite affected by the lower mids being quite warm and colored but the well-controlled ear gain gives female vocals, particularly with warmer undertones a very rich and full-bodied timbre that I enjoyed tremendously. Again, openness is affected but when vocals and instruments sound this rich and mellow, you get an appreciation for a slightly colored midrange. But again, this means it probably won’t be for those seeking a more neutral timbral quality. Due to this, harshness is thankfully omitted while still keeping a respectable amount of nuance despite the aforementioned richness and body.

A track that plays well with this is Oxytocin by Billie Eilish. The empowering bass in that song often makes Billie’s vocals sound sunken on IEMs with poorly done midrange, but the Zeta plays well with the mix being so bass prominent. Her vocals still sound crisp and nuanced but on the side of warmth and smoothness over clarity and precision.

TREBLE:
This is the part of the Zeta where I was most underwhelmed by yet also quite impressed how well it played with the rest of the frequency.

I was rather underwhelmed due to, well, the fact that the ESTs sounding more like they’re there to smoothen out the treble than to give it proper air and microdetai. Don’t get me wrong, the microdetail retrieval of the Zeta is quite impressive considering this is a generally bassy set. But it’s not as crisp as I honestly want it to.

Regardless, the lower treble region is definitely its strongest point as coming from the upper mids, there is a lot of energy and richness to balance out the higher frequencies from being fatigue free while still having a respectable amount of detail and nuance. Upper octave female vocals and instruments exhibit a lot of character and detail with a snappy attack and a vibrant decay. Just like the Upper mids, the lower treble exhibits good control over this region not being shouty or harsh in any way.

Mid treble is where the Zeta reminds us that this is still a basshead set through and through as while the percussive and higher notes come across as respectably nuanced, they’re definitely on the tamer side with details being more complimentary rather than playing side by side in the mix. I honestly don’t mind it as much (if it wasn’t for the upper treble) but I would’ve definitely loved to have a little bit more sparkle in this region as a treblehead like me likes hard hitting and sparkly treble. However, this also means that most people who are sensitive to this region will adore how smooth the treble of the Zeta is

And we then top it off with the upper treble which, least to say, was quite lackluster. Extension was average with the lingering high notes decaying a little faster than I wish. However, it’s not all negatives as the ESTs somehow make it smooth enough for me not find it grainy or unresolving as would most IEMs with a rolled off treble do. It’s smooth all the way which I can totally respect. But again, I’d like more shimmer on the very tail end of notes and the lovely airiness.

The unexpected track to perform really well in this regard is Earth, Wind and Fire’s Fantasy. While I usually really like sparkly sets on this track, the Zeta made me realize how well balanced it’s tuned that it turned Fantasy into an absolutely wonderful experience. Normally I’d just talk about the specific aspect like the Treble in this region, but the Zeta just plays so well with their discography, especially Fantasy. The crispness of the cymbals was just perfect in every way that is paired up with the bass giving that track so much depth and power. Honestly, that band plus Zeta was just an absolute listening experience all the way.

Technicalities:
This is by far the most surprisingly competent aspect of the Zeta as the bass presence can also often affect technicalities, but not in the Zeta

Stage is surprisingly wide and deep. There is a good sense of placement of instruments around you and the space in between each instrument in a space. Of course, stage is one of the most difficult things to really describe and YMMV as per but to my ears, these sound quite spacious and deep with how vocals and instruments are presented. However, airiness definitely took a hit in the height department as I didn’t really find the experience to be out of your head more than it’s on a flat plane in front of you. Vocal openness also took a hit which makes especially female vocals more in front of you rather than further away or in a dedicated space around you.

Separation and layering is probably the best aspect of the Zeta in terms of technicalities as the insane bass levels as so well controlled and detailed that instruments are still very much audible with a superb amount of layering. Of course, this doesn’t inherently beat cleaner sets especially for the price, but a bassy set that doesn’t compromise technicalities will always be a win for me. However, busier tracks will definitely give the Zeta a challenge. It passes generally well for a lot of rock and metal tracks and gives a very engaging listen too, but it has the tendency to get a little confused on what is supposed to be on top of the mix occasionally with bass often being a little bit too tender and thick for the midrange to catch up.

Imaging isn’t the most accurate I’ve heard, especially for the price, but it’s respectable enough for me to give it a pass. L/R panning is wonderful with instruments having a solid placement around the field that gives a sense of image in your head of where instruments are. But just like in the separation, it gets a little confused in extremely busy tracks with the bass often seeming to sound like they’re everywhere and the rest of the mix start to get a little mushy around the mix.

COMPARISONS:

Vs Letshuoer Cadenza 12 ($2300)

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  • Has a much more extravagant unboxing experience
  • Build is similar but the Zeta has a more confident and less scratch prone design
  • C12 has a more neutral, balanced and brighter tuning
  • Bass is much more neutral, controlled and open but less impactful, textured and punchy
  • Mids are MUCH more neutral, natural and nuanced on the C12
  • Treble is not as smooth or inoffensive but much more nuanced, detailed and extended
  • Technicalities is slightly better compared to the Zeta

Vs CA Andromeda ($1400)

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  • Andromeda has an edgier but less confident build compared to the Zeta
  • Andromeda is a more neutral leaning bright IEM
  • Andromeda has faster, more detailed but less dynamic and textured bass
  • Andromeda has a more natural, smoother but not as open or clean midrange
  • Andromeda has a more elevated, nuanced but harsher and less controlled treble
  • Technicalities is about similar for both IEMs

Vs SA6 MKII ($579)

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  • Has a surprisingly better unboxing experience and overall inclusion
  • Build feels much better on the Zeta but doesn’t fit as well as the SA6 MKII
  • A less u-shape sound signature compared to the Zeta
  • Bass is MUCH less textured, tactile but also MUCH more open, clean and impactful
  • Mids are more neutral and nuanced with less upper midrange emphasis
  • Treble is more elevated, potentially harsher but also more detailed and nuanced
  • Technicalities are similar on both units

VERDICT:

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The Zeta is definitely an interesting entry into the TOTL scene as it does what very little amount of TOTLs do which is create a unique, fun but largely uncompromised experience with a solid technical chop to compliment it. The anti-TOTL TOTL IEM.

But that’s what also makes it undesirable for some. Besides the somewhat lack luster unboxing experience for the price, it’s also a departure from most neutral sets that people are used to at this price point. It’s musical over analytical. Fun over accuracy. It’s not your most neutral, precise and reference choice. Far from it.

But that’s exactly why I personally love it. It’s a very engaging and fun sound that breaks the mold of what TOTL’s can be. They don’t have to be a borefest of neutral/balanced tune IEMs that cater only to those who want a reference like sound. TOTL’s should be able to do everything and anything with a level of refinement or quality that you cannot find in cheaper IEMs. This and the fact that this came from a brand like Hiby who doesn’t really have a good track of making IEMs is seriously surprising.

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Will hardcore audiophiles love the Zeta? Probably not. But if your pocket is deep enough and you REALLY want that TOTL-level fun, then the Zeta is that oddball that you can roll with.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my review. If you would like to see more of my content, please consider following my Facebook page and my other social media accounts:

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRv42fx1TIcEpP_QBbkhEOA
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OB.ODIO
Twitter: https://twitter.com/obodioreviews
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/obodioreviews/

If you would like to avail the product reviewed today, check the non-affiliate link below!
https://store.hiby.com/products/hiby-zeta

Have a nice day, and enjoy music!

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Last edited:
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kesobie
kesobie
@gLer Thanks for the feedback! The Zeta's actually somewhat awakened the inner basshead in me as a lot of the music I listen to have pretty thick and punchy bass and the Zeta gave the songs an almost perfect replay! I wished they were cheaper, but they're still absolutely fantastic for the price.
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gLer
gLer
I agree, though I think compared to the likes of Z1R and even the 'bass quantity king' MSE, they're very good value for what they offer. Easiest listening IEM out of my bass-first TOTL IEMs for sure. I'm just surprised more people haven't caught on to the quality of this IEM.
kesobie
kesobie
@gLer I think the Zeta falls prey to IEMs made by music player brands as there's a stigma that IEMs made by such brands are not very good quality (which I can somehow attest to) so they think that Zeta falls under that moniker. I could not disagree more, however as I genuinely think the Zeta can compete with kilobuck sets, at least in its basshead centric niche.
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darmanastartes

500+ Head-Fier
V-Shaped Endgame?
Pros: TOTL bass technicalities, excellent detail retrieval, natural timbre, great layering and superb imaging, build quality and included accessories befitting price tag
Cons: smallish soundstage, busy lower midrange, not enough upper treble air
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INTRODUCTION AND DISCLAIMER:​

The HiBy Zeta is a hybrid in-ear monitor that combines one 10mm dynamic driver, four balanced armatures, and four electrostatic drivers per earpiece. It retails for $1399. I received the Zeta through a review tour organized by HiBy. I was able to test it for a week and a half before writing my review. I covered the shipping costs to the next reviewer on the tour, and no compensation was received for this review.

SOURCES:​

During my review process, I utilized the Hiby Zeta with the following sources:
  • Moondrop Dawn
  • Truthear Shio
  • Hiby R6 Pro II

MUSIC:​

I assessed the quality of these headphones using FLAC and Spotify Premium. To gain an understanding of my musical taste, visit my last.fm page:
XenosBroodLord’s Library | Last.fm

PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES:​

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The HiBy Zeta comes in a rectangular square black box with a black cardboard slipcover. The included 2-pin cable has a 4.4mm balanced termination. The package includes nine pairs of eartips. This selection consists of three pairs of standard silicone eartips (S, M, L), three pairs of shallow wide-bore eartips (S, M, L), and three pairs of hybrid silicone-foam eartips (S, M, L). The package also includes a HiBy-branded hockey puck-shaped storage case with a friction-fit lid finished in turquoize leather. Two small drawstring mesh bags are included to protect the earpieces inside the storage case. A magnetic cable clasp and a cleaning brush are also provided. As for documentation, the Zeta comes with a user manual and a quality control pass chit.

BUILD QUALITY AND DESIGN:​

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The Hiby Zeta’s earpieces are machined from titanium and feature a puesdo-custom fit. The teardrop-shaped faceplates have mirrored stainless steel inlays featuring a two-tone geometric design. The earpieces are laser etched with with the HiBy logo and unit serial number, plus “L” and “R” indicators below the 2-pin ports. Each earpiece has a single circular vent near the serial number. The nozzles are thick and have a gently raised lip to secure eartips. I did not have any issues with eartips coming loose during my time with the Zeta.
The included 8-core litz cable uses an eight-way braid below the Y-split and quad-braids on each side above the Y-split. It has strain relief above its 4.4mm jack but none at the Y-split. Its chin adjustment choker, 4.4 mm jack housing and Y-split hardware are all dark polished chrome with white lettering (“HIBY” on the 4.4mm jack hardware and “ZETA” on the Y-split hardware). It also has pre-formed earguides and the 2-pin connector hardware is marked red and blue for right and left. My one complaint about the cable is that the chin adjustment choker is hard to slide up and down the cable due to the girth of the quad-braids.

COMFORT, FIT, AND ISOLATION:​

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The HiBy Zeta should be worn with the cable up. Though it has a moderate insertion depth, secureness of fit is slightly below average. However, isolation is very good. The included cable is somewhat microphonic even with the use of the chin adjustment choker.

MEASUREMENTS:​

My measurements of the HiBy Zeta can be found on my expanding squig.link database:
HiBy Zeta — Squiglink by Bedrock Reviews

SOUND:​

The HiBy Zeta has a refined V-shaped tuning, with the bass and upper midrange/lower treble having roughly equal intensity. The upper midrange is notably even, avoiding any harsh peaks.
The Zeta’s dynamic driver produces a thunderous, powerful bass response. The bass is most elevated in the bottommost sub-bass and recedes in a roughly linear fashion until around 700 Hz. If the Zeta’s dynamic driver were less capable, I would imagine this tuning would be muddy and bloated. Given the capabilities of the driver, however, the Zeta has some of the best bass I have ever heard, with superb articulation and resolution, impactful slam and excellent note weight and texture.
The Zeta’s lower mids are recessed, resulting in male vocals sounding slightly boxed-in compared to low-end and top-end instrumentation. With that said, harsh male vocals have body, grit, and power in spades. Female vocals are lush, vibrant, and clearer than male vocals. However, there is a hint of sibilance to female vocals. Analog percussion has an organic and snappy timbre. There is a moderate dip between 5 kHz and 8 kHz which appears to be intentional. Adding presence into this dip with equalization introduces an unpleasant grittyness to the presentation.
The Zeta has a gentle but detailed treble response that delivers the micro-level insight one would expect from an IEM of its price. I do think the Zeta could use a bit more upper treble emphasis, as there is limited air. Furthermore, the soundstage is not as spacious as the driver configuration might suggest. The soundstage width extends outside the head, while the height and depth of the soundstage are average and shallow respectively. The sustained emphasis in the mid-bass region does create a busy center-stage image, yet layering is still very good. Thanks to its punchy and highly textured bass response, the Zeta conveys dynamic swings with ease. Finally, imaging is excellent.
The Zeta is one of the best IEMs for extreme metal I have listened to to date. I felt the power of its sound listening to a high-resolution digital copy of “I Will Find You” by Whitechapel early in my review process. The galloping double bass and downtuned extended range electric guitars that kick in at 0:46 sound like a stampede, and vocalist Phil Bozeman’s growl at 4:11 sent shivers down my spine.

AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS AND SOURCE PAIRING:​

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The Hiby Zeta is easy to drive and had no hiss with any of my sources. For best results, I recommend pairing it with a highly resolving source device, like the Hiby R6 Pro II, which offered an audibly blacker background than my Truthear Shio.

CLOSING WORDS:​

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I usually prefer reference-tuned IEMs, but the HiBy Zeta’s stellar bass performance and excellent build quality have won me over. I can confidently recommend the Zeta to anyone looking for an endgame IEM with a V-shaped sound profile.

SynaestheticA

500+ Head-Fier
Reaching The Zeta Zone
Pros: Treble
Treble
Treble Treble Treble
Upper Mids
Analogue Bass
Angelic
Cons: Seriously can not find faults in this unit since taking advice of 0ogenesiso0 in comments below
The HiBy Zeta

IMG-20230518-WA0001.jpg


Disclaimer:
This is a Feelings-No-Facts review.

My favourite kind.

~

Review sample was loaned courtesy of @Joe Bloggs

Sound impressions are based off the HiBy RS6 DAP pairing.

~~

I'm not usually very good at describing treble, or what it is that I like about high notes. It's easier to acknowledge what it is that I don't like about Treble. I don't like it harsh or peaky (Although I'm in no way sensitive to it). I don't like it dull (although I mostly listen to electronic so it isn't too bad if it is) and I don't like treble pushed more forward than mids (Mids just seem more important to me).

Most treble to me is perfectly "adequate". I thought I felt this due to the music I listened too. In an electronic track you don't have all the naturalness of pitch to deal with, it's much easier to get sounds within a smooth pleasant frequency.

But the HiBy Zeta changes all of that.

In a way this review could be about nothing else but treble. I've never experienced a presentation like this, but it couldn't possibly just be about treble, because in many ways sometimes I don't know where the upper mids end and the high notes begin. Everything about the mids and high notes feel so elevated. Shiny, glistening and Sparkly are words you might often hear, This is beyond that.

It feels like there is a giant bright spotlight being shone onto the upper frequencies of tracks. Yet it doesn't create and analytical or "bright" sound. In some ways the dynamic bass offsets what will sound like "brightness" as I describe it. But it isn't brightness, it's a thick glimmering that flies across your brain and fills your head with light in way that can probably be best represented by the upper stage of enlightenment from that expanding mind meme.

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Higher notes come across with so much fullness and such a shine that it is quite often difficult to register where the higher mids and treble really end and begin.

When you read that you might think "gee that sounds bad" but you'd be wrong. And the measure of a person is to know when to admit that.

Instead it's a testament to the cohesion of the HiBy Zeta. When I listen to any other IEM including the Kublai Khan I can tell that there are different drivers doing things. There is clear separation and micro details to assist with that. With the Zeta and with the exception of the dynamic bass, everything flows out as if it's one big note creating a sense of fullness with an ethereal fog light being put onto the upper notes.

That isn't to say that separation is in any way inhibited. The opposite, separation is fantastic with the Zeta being able to handle just about any convoluted passage due to the highs that just fly effortlessly over head.

I told you, I could make this review about nothing else but Treble.

For those of you that have heard a successful implementation of EST drivers maybe this experience is common. But this is my first time with them and it's sensationally good. There's a word we can stick with, because it creates a sensation in your head. I find myself listening to treble heavy music just to feel the treble and fill my brain as I expand into the fifth dimension of consciousness.

Bass

Alright yea, there is bass too. When I first listened I had just come from the Hiby Crystal6 all BA set and my first impression was that HiBy should have gone with a BA bass implementation. Too be completely honest, they still could have, it would be neither here nor there but it would certainly be a different IEM.

The bass is huge, truly massive and thick and vibrating. But it is also soft and warm, it doesn't stab at you and it doesn't become overwhelming with higher volumes. I mention this as with the Kublai Khan the bass is the thing that stops me from being able to crank the volume. That's not a criticism, some frequency would sooner or later stop me from being able to give myself long term hearing damage, with the KK it's the bass. With the Zeta, despite the size and power of the bass, it doesn't stop the sound from being CRANKED.

In some ways I thought the speaker like concert feeling of the bass didn't fit with the ethereal nature of the other frequencies, but now I wouldn't have it any other way. It is the only part of the Zeta that stops the feeling of total cohesion within electronic music specifically but it doesn't stop the feeling of total immersion. The bass forces you to head bang and dance with your foot and just make you feel like you're at one big concert while the rest of the notes lift you up into the clouds.

The bass has an analogue feel ok? You all know what that means.

The rest of the Zeta is lovely.

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They are quite compact yet have a great weight to them giving them a real sense of longevity, sturdiness and top end feel. The actual design on the face plate itself I feel neither here nor there for. See! I am impartial. It's not bad but it isn't some beautiful design you want to swaddle and stare at. In the ear they feel great and smooth, I have not an inch of discomfort.

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The nozzle is normal length but due to the rest of the shell not protruding too far into the ear it isn't the longest fit. personally I like this as most tips fit and I can get a great seal with everything pushed up against my ear. They feel very secure.

The cable is a lovely cable, thick and a very nice colour of blue. Another colour would (I think) have given the overall design of the shell and cable a better more cohesive look. The blue on silver is fine, but doesn't really match. One of those nice metal looking graphite cables or something more grey would have suited better. But it's not like the blue is problematic so let's leave that there.

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I believe you only get a 4.4 connection with these which I'm sure everyone on this site has a source for already. I however do not so I can't test these on my phone to see the difference between running these on the RS6 and a phone. But if the Crystal 6 is anything to go by it will be night and day in every way.

Worth noting though is these are quite easy to drive. Swapping between the IMR Bass Cannon 2023 and the Zeta on the HiBy RS6 requires me to push the volume down as the Zeta just doesn't need it. BTW since we are talking about the Bass Cannon, the Zeta is the real Bass Cannon here.

Graphs
I could only do much worse than the very comprehensive @o0genesis0o in the other review, I'd strongly recommend going ahead and referring to those to get your dose of facts.

Comparison

This is the part I've been most excited about. Comparing the HiBy Zeta to the Noble Kublai Khan. The only other Flagship TOTL IEM I've heard/own (I do not own the Zeta).

The KK is the more technically proficient model. Microdetails and definition is above the Zeta quite significantly with the bass feeling tighter, punchier and more defined. You can see more of the bass, it's 3d and holographic in the sense that with electronic kickdrums I can visualize every angle of the kick.

However, that punchiness can also be overwhelming and if I was sensitive to migraines I'm certain it would have been given me one. Both can be considered bass monsters with the HiBy coming across as warmer, softer and less fatiguing in that region.

Here is the fun part. I think the Zeta high's "feel" more musical and delicious. The way they flow and the spotlight presentation of them YES does lose some microdetail but YES YES YES does it feel amazing to have in your ears. I've come to the learn that the forward presentation pf microdetails doesn't necessairly make an iem better. It's one hell of an experience, but it isn't the only thing that matters.

That being said, overall the KK is probably the one you would pick if you for some reason where deciding between the two, but the price bracket difference is pretty significant so the comparison really isn't that informative, I just bring it up as I wanted to.

The technical proficiency of the KK I just can't imagine being improved upon and I'm a sucker for technicals. But let's not take away from the important statement here which is "The upper mid and treble presentation of the Zeta is more musical and enjoyable to me than those of the KK"

Which is pretty damn badass.

I also occasionally find the KK to be like a sweet. It's delicious in small doses but sickening to have all day long. The Zeta I could have in my ears for the rest of my life.

Song Time

Yea alright how about some music.

in Leonard Cohens Hallelujah you really notice something when the choir ladies come in towards the end of the song. Their hallelujah pierces through the air and lingers long after the note is over.

Pretty much every Regina Spektor track just goes off the scales as her piano and voice assert themselves in the mix with smooth angelic ability. There is an added emotionality to female vocals that elevate them into the heavens and it really comes out here.

The Genius Next Door (which I'm pretty sure is about teenagers cumming in a lake) starts with piano keys that feel like they are being played in your head. her voice leaves resonance in the track that feels like it continues rising well after she has finished harmonizing.

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I could review a Patricia Barber track but; and no disrespect meant to Patricia but how many people are buying IEMs just to listen to Patricia Barber?

Why not listen to another song about Jesus instead? It seems fitting considering the angelic presentation we get here.

God Only Knows by the Beach Boys starts fairly harsh and sibilant on the all BA set HiBy Crystal (Gen 1). On the Zeta the treble is smoothened over despite extending much further into your mind. Their higher pitched vocals work really well here and stay separated during the all of the crossover harmonizing. The jingles and cymbals reach higher than they have any business being and extend deep in the mix while also managing to be forward and ever present.


Where HiBy could Improve

I wouldn't want to change anything by the way of frequency presentation. However some of the technical performance could be taken to another level to create an even more unreal experience. Soundstage width specifically as well as microdetail retraival are the only two places I could really suggest making any change at all.

Soundstage is usually a deal breaker for me. If it don't have it I don't want it. The Zeta is over what I need as a minimum but it isn't as grandiose as it could be.

And that's all really.

*Edit: since taking advice of 0ogenesiso0 in comments below I no longer have any suggestions on improvement of the Zeta.

Soundstage opens up significantly with the right power or EQ profile. I can imagine cable rolling having similar effects.

~~

I can imagine a world where people with more experience could suggest further improvements. But for me the tuning and implementation of sound is above and beyond what I thought I could expect from an iem. When I first read about Planar drivers I thought music was going to sound completely different to other drivers, only to find it it still sounds like music. The Zeta with it's EST is a true point of difference and IS that different presentation I was expecting with a Planar.

Final Disclaimer: I've been influenced by overly enthusiastic reviews before. You read them and think "Wow, if someone can say all of this with cogent energy they musty be good". And then you get the things and they are just fine. It's annoying. I get it. But this is a feelings-no-facts review so we're all just going to have to live with that.

So why a 5 star?
I see a plethora of reviews that rate a product a 4 or 4.5 despite mentioning glaring issues or room for improvements. It's hard to rate something at 3 or below as it feels mean, it might hurt someone's business and quite frankly this is all subjective and you could very well be in the minority of your opinion.

To me a 5 star isn't about the sound being "perfect" or hitting a certain number of criteria. It is about music being presented in a unique and interesting way that makes the addition of that unit a worthwhile consideration in a collection.

The Zeta does effortlessly by creating a sound presentation that is sensational.

The Zeta sound has character and confidence as well as excellent ergonomics and design. It isn't just a well done IEM but a unique IEM with a beautiful sound.
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o0genesis0o
o0genesis0o
Fun review, mate!

The narrow soundstage is somewhat due to the RS6. I mostly use RS6 with something with a lot of stage already like U12T and Andromeda. For something with more depth than width like Zeta, I had better experience pairing with Topping G5 or even Shanling M6 Ultra.

Btw, Joe left some impulse response profiles in the RS6 that he creates for Zeta. One applies some EQ, the other one also has speaker emulation. Turning everything on creates quite interesting sound.
SynaestheticA
SynaestheticA
Been meaning to give you a shout out for this comment since you made it. Those controls worked a charm, made them perfect for me. Still haven't been satisfied with an IEMs treble since hearing the Zeta.

o0genesis0o

Headphoneus Supremus
HiBy Zeta - Engaging Kilobuck
Pros: + Warm and engaging tonality
+ Bouncy, fun, yet controlled bass
+ Refined and detailed treble response
+ Resolving and detailed
+ High-level soundstage and imaging
Cons: - Soundstage lacks diffusion to be holographic
- Lower-midrange might be too thick for some recordings
- Treble air could be more highlighted
HiBy is well known for its music app and a lot of digital audio players (DAP) with similar names (Am I the only confused about the R6, New R6, R6 Gen II, R6 Gen III, R6 Pro, R6 Pro 2?) What I didn’t know is that they also make IEMs. Are they good? Today, we look at HiBy’s state-of-the-art flagship IEM, the Zeta.


Forewords​

  • My review aims to tell you where an IEM is within a consistent and simple scale from 1 (poor) to 5 (outstanding). Scores are assigned by A/B tests against benchmark IEMs, regardless of the retail price.
  • What I look for in an IEM is immersion. I want to feel the orchestra around me and hear all the details, not for the sake of having details but for realism. IEMs achieving such presentations have a higher rating.
  • Ranking list and measurement database are on my IEM review blog.
  • This review is based on a loaned unit from HiBy (Thank you @Joe Bloggs!). I have no affiliation with or financial interest in HiBy. The unit retails for USD$1399 at the time this review was published. You can find out more info and get yourself a unit from the HiBy store.

Specs​

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  • Driver: 1DD (Liquid Silicone & Kevlar diaphragm) + 1 Mid-Lows BA (Sonion) + 2 Mid-Highs BAs (Knowles) + 1 High BA (Knowles) + 4 Ultra-high ESTs
  • Crossover: 5-ways
  • Connector Type: 2-pin
  • Impedance: 9ohm
  • Sensitivity: 112dB/mW

Non-sound Aspects​

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The unboxing experience of Zeta is less glamorous than what I expected from a flagship IEM. However, the content inside the box makes up for the unboxing experience.

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Starting with the case, HiBy packs Zeta with a leather puck case similar in size and shape to the ones used by 64 Audio. The leather and the stitching feel more luxurious than the utilitarian design of 64 Audio. I’m a sucker for puck cases, so you know that this case is a hit to me.

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Inside the box, you can find 3 types of ear tips. I find it interesting that the tips provided by HiBy are not for changing tonality but to accommodate different wearing styles (shallow or deep insertion). I was also interested to see the silicone-foam hybrid tips. However, the experience with these tips was worse than my imagination (just because of the tips, not Zeta). I used my Spin Fit CP145 tips for all listening tests.

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The cable coming with Zeta has a bluish/purple colour. It is thick and strong but manageable and does not get tangled. All the plugs and splitter are well-machined and polished. The cable terminates with a 4.4mm jack, my favourite.

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Zeta is a medium-sized IEM machined from titanium. The earpieces feel dense and robust. Similarly to the FiiO FH9, which also features titanium shells, Zeta never feels too cold to the touch. The shells have some visual flair, mirror-polished patterns, and an engraved company logo.

I did not experience discomfort when testing Zeta, though I needed to let my ears rest after every few hours. Even though Zeta has venting, it does not feel as open as 64 Audio IEMs with APEX vents.

How it sounds​

Sources for listening tests:

  • Fiio K7 (for all A/B tests)
  • Shanling M6 Ultra
  • Hidizs S9 Pro
Local FLAC files ripped from CDs or bought from Qobuz were used for most casual listening and A/B tests. My playlist for A/B tests can be found on Apple Music here.

All of my listening was done with Spin Fit CP145 ear tips. I listen at a medium volume. I usually turn up the volume until the midrange is fully audible and detailed, unless a treble peak or overwhelming bass prevents me from doing so.

Tonality and Timbre: 4/5 - Good​

Frequency response of Zeta. Measurements were done with an IEC-711-compliant coupler and might only be compared with other measurements from this same coupler. Visit my graph database for more comparisons.

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Tonality or “tuning” is where objectivity and subjectivity meet. Objectivity exists in the squiggly lines above, called Frequency Response (FR) graphs. They are created by sweeping a signal from 20Hz to 20kHz and measuring the corresponding loudness coming from an IEM. Unless a human operator deliberately tampers with the microphone or the data, FR does not care about the price or prestige of an IEM and, therefore, is “objective.”

However, human listeners are not microphones. Our ears and brain interpret the sound and decide whether it is “enjoyable.” It is also beneficial to remember that when you play a note on a musical instrument, multiple sounds (fundamental and harmonic) appear simultaneously and mix together. Achieving a life-like balance between frequencies and adding a tasteful amount of imbalance (“colouring the sound”) is the hallmark of an excellent tonality.


The tonality of Zeta can be described as warm, moody, and pleasant. Upon first listening, you might find Zeta somewhat generic and pedestrian. But soon, the bass and the warm midrange start to suck you in and never let go. Zeta can handle any genre and never gets harsh or unnatural. These IEMs work incredibly well with commercial music. They also work well with orchestral and cinematic music, though, for my personal preference, I want the midrange to be a bit more open and the treble air a bit more emphasised.

Let’s break down the response of Zeta and relate the subjective experience to the measurements.

The star of Zeta’s tonality is the bass response. The peak of the bass shelf is also the highest or loudest point of the entire frequency response of Zeta. However, the emphasis on the bass is not as extreme as a true basshead IEM, like 7Hz Legato. Zeta focuses on the sub-bass region but does not neglect the mid-bass region. As a result, you can hear and feel the bass.

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The midrange of Zeta is warm and has a thicker note weightthan neutral because it does not have a distinct separation between midrange and bass. There is a solid boost of 5dB above neutral in the lower midrange region, around 250Hz. Depending on your music library and preference, this tuning can be musical or muddy.

The upper midrange of Zeta is mild but correct. The ear gain from 1kHz to 4kHz has the right shape and a sensible amount of only around 8dB above neutral. This tuning ensures that most instruments and female vocals are natural. It means no hollowness, honkiness, boxiness, or other nasties exist. At the same time, Zeta’s midrange is never shouty or in-your-face.

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The treble region is another star of Zeta’s response. It provides “special effects” to the mild and warm midrange, making the listening experience exciting and special.

The treble region has a few interesting characteristics:

  1. There are emphasises at 5kHz and 8kHz to improve note definition, highlight note attacks (e.g., string plucks, bow attacks, stick impacts), and provide sparkles to cymbals and chimes.
  2. We have a strategic dip at around 6-7kHz to remove harshness and sibilance.
  3. We have a slight roll-off in the upper treble region from above 10kHz. However, luckily, the all-important 15kHz region still maintains adequate energy.
The BA and EST tweeters work together to create a smooth yet highly detailed treble response. I find the treble quality addicting.

In summary, I find the tonality and tuning of Zeta to be a lesson about balance. The Zeta is mild, warm, and pleasant. Yet, it is also powerful and exciting. That being said, I do have two complaints. Firstly, the 250Hz could be dropped by a few dB to open up the midrange just a touch. Secondly, the air region centring around 15kHz could be further emphasised to highlight that addictive EST treble. So, I say Zeta’s tonality is 4/5 - Good, but it could be even better.

Resolution, Detail, Separation: 4.5/5 - Very Good​

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Resolution is a fascinating subject due to the difficulty of pinning down what it really is. To me, “resolution” can be broken down into three components:

  1. Sharpness, incisiveness, or “definition” of note attacks (see the figure above).
  2. The separation of instruments and vocals, especially when they overlap on the soundstage.
  3. The texture and details in the decay side of the notes.
The first two give music clarity and make it easy to track individual elements of a mix. The last provides music details and nuances. Generally, a smooth frequency response and good drivers give the best resolution.

The resolution of Zeta is as you expect from a pair of high-end IEMs. Note definition is sharp. Instrument separation is clear. Music reproduction is rich in texture and details.

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For example, consider the Presto movement in the Summer violin concerto. This piece contains dense and fast passages full of overlapping instruments, forcing IEMs and DAC/amp to reveal their weaknesses in resolution.

The Zeta maintains clear outlines of instruments, making it easy for me to track individual instruments in the orchestra. In back-to-back A/B tests, I immediately noticed that a good IEM like Moondrop Blessing 2 (4/5 - Good) sounds more congested and blurry from the opening phrase. I also found Zeta more articulated than Andromeda 2020 (4.5/5 - Very Good) throughout the piece. Only the U12T (5/5 - Excellent) outperforms the Zeta, offering more instrument separation and nuances within each instrument.

Another example I use to test detail retrieval is the Flute Partita in A Minor. Again, Zeta sounds noticeably more fine-grained and detailed and Blessing 2. I can also hear more ambience and air. The detail retrieval capability of Zeta is at the same level as the Andromeda and one step behind the U12T, which reveals more nuances in the flute and the room ambience.

In summary, Zeta is an accomplished IEM in both detail and clarity. It operates at a flagship level, though not necessarily the flagship of flagships. 4.5/5 - Very Good.

Percussion Rendering: 5/5 - Excellent​

Percussion rendering reflects how well the tuning and technical performance of an IEM work together to recreate realistic soundof a drum set. Good drum hits have a crisp attack (controlled by frequencies from 4kHz to 6kHz), full body (midbass frequencies around 200Hz), and physical sensation (sub-bass frequencies around 50Hz). Good technical performance (“fast” driver) ensures that bass notes can be loud yet detailed. IEMs that cannot control bass very well tend to reduce the bass’ loudness to prevent muddiness.

The bass response is, without a doubt, the foundation and the brightest spot of Zeta’s performance. This IEM renders percussion notes with a clear attack, full-bodied sound, and resonating decay.

An example to evaluate percussion rendering is Hotel California (1994 live version). This version has an iconic drum line at the beginning that emphasises every kick and snare hit, making it easier to appreciate the percussion rendering. After comparing Zeta with the U12T (5/5), I noticed that the Zeta’s kick drum attacks were slightly less snappy, but the kicks were sustained longer, allowing me to appreciate the texture and details better. The kicks’ decay was also more extended as if they resonated across the soundstage. Compared to the Legato (5/5), the Zeta had slightly less bass quantity but more control.

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Another example to evaluate the percussion rendering is Skyrim’s main theme, Dragonborn. In the opening phrase, where war drums are used, the Zeta produces stronger rumbles than the U12T. Additionally, these rumbles have more texture than the Legato. As the music gets busy around the two-minute mark, the Legato loses its sense of rhythm while the Zeta maintains the beats. However, the Zeta sounds a bit more congested and busy than the U12T.

In summary, Zeta falls somewhere in between the more controlled presentation of U12T and the all-out basshead presentation of 7Hz Legato, both of which are top performers in their own right. While Zeta may not surpass either of these IEMs in terms of their unique strengths, it certainly holds its own with its impressive quantity and “bounciness” that surpasses U12T and its superior control compared to Legato. At the same time, Zeta’s percussion rendering is above the textureless and un-dynamic bass usually found amongst mid-fi and even some higher-end IEMs. 5/5 - Excellent.

Stereo Imaging (Soundstage): 5/5 - Very Good​

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Stereo imaging or “soundstage” is a psychoacoustic illusion that different recording elements appear at various locations inside and around your head. Your brain creates based on the cues in the recording, which are enhanced or diminushed by your IEMs, your DAC, and your amplifier. Some IEMs present a wide but flat soundstage. Some present a “3D” soundstage with layering, depth, and height. In rare cases, with some specific songs, some IEMs can trick you into thinking that the sound comes from the environment (a.k.a., “holographic”)

Although Zeta does not have the widest soundstage, it makes up for it by providing a decent sense of depth and layering. This allows for a clear distinction between instruments that are closer and further away on the soundstage, resulting in a three-dimensional illusion that is particularly impressive for orchestral and cinematic music.

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Let’s take a look at Synchro by Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra as an example. Zeta has a similar depth and layering as the Andromeda 2020 (5/5). However, the soundstage structure and presentation are slightly different. Zeta’s musical content concentrates at the centre rather than spreading across the headspace like Andromeda. If I were nitpicky, I would say that Andromeda is still slightly ahead. Nevertheless, both IEMs can highlight the outermost background layer and are superior to a typical good IEM like the Blessing 2 (5/5), which has a significantly flatter 2D presentation.

To sum up, Zeta does not disappoint in terms of soundstage imaging. It offers a good soundstage width and can create out-of-head staging with certain recordings. It also excels in depth and layering. The only drawback is that it lacks some instrument diffusion across the stage, which prevents it from delivering a fully “holographic” experience. Nonetheless, it deserves a 5/5 rating for its excellent performance.

Source Pairing​

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You don’t need a lot of amplification to make Zeta loud. However, using high-end sources can help you get the best performance out of the DD woofers and the EST tweeters. If you upgrade from a micro DAP like Hidizs AP80 Pro X to a full-sized device like Shanling M6 Ultra or FiiO K7, you’ll notice an improvement in the soundstage and clarity across the spectrum, especially in the bass region. And if you use a TOTL source like L&P P6 Pro, you’ll get even punchier bass and better control in busy recordings, like the section around the two-minute mark in Skyrim’s main theme.

Some Comparisons​

In this section, I compare Zeta with some relevant IEMs. You can use my ranking list to compare Zeta with others. Due to the way I rank IEMs, if two IEMs score the same, they perform more or less similar.

Andromeda 2020: Zeta and Andromeda have a warm-leaning sound signature but approach it differently. Zeta leans towards a warmer Harman-inspired tuning, while Andromeda has an old-school multi-BA tuning with a thicker midrange that sometimes sounds muffled and congested. The bass on the Zeta is superior, offering more quantity and quality than the textureless bass of the Andromeda. Both IEMs provide a 3D soundstage, with the Andromeda offering a more atmospheric and “holographic” sound due to its diffused presentation.

64 Audio U12T: The 64 Audio U12T sounds flatter and more open than the Zeta. The U12T’s bass is more controlled, while the Zeta’s bass is more “bouncy” and fun. The U12T also has better detail and clarity, giving it an edge over the Zeta. Additionally, the APEX venting system of the U12T enhances listening comfort. Although the Zeta is not a direct replacement or upgrade to the U12T, it pairs well with the U12T to offer two alternative high-end listening experiences.

Conclusion​

The kilo-buck market can be challenging for buyers and manufacturers alike. When entering this market, cost considerations often take a back seat to the pursuit of quality. The two most important questions for me are: (1) Does this IEM belong in this price range? and (2) What kind of sound does it offer? In the case of the HiBy Zeta, I believe the answer to the first question is “yes.” As for the second question, the Zeta has a pleasant tonality and presentation that most people will enjoy unless they seek the most pristine and open listening experience. Overall, I recommend the HiBy Zeta, but with some reservations.

Pros:
  • Warm and engaging tonality
  • Bouncy, fun, yet controlled bass
  • Refined and detailed treble response
  • Resolving and detailed
  • High-level soundstage and imaging
Cons:
  • Soundstage lacks diffusion to be holographic
  • Lower-midrange might be too thick for some recordings
  • Treble air could be more highlighted
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Updated: April 24, 2023

gLer

No DD, no DICE
HiBy Zeta: Ooh La La!
Pros: Naturally balanced bass-driven sound
Easy listening tonality with subtle warmth, contrast and dynamism
Excellent technical performance - very clean
Outstanding build quality, design and comfort
Great all-round value
Cons: Cable braid is too loose and unwinds over time
Some eartips can cause suction pressure despite the venting
Upper-mid/lower-treble transition could be more refined
Introduction

When I heard the first rumours about a new flagship IEM from HiBy it took me by surprise, not because I didn’t know HiBy was in the IEM business, but because, until now, their efforts were mostly lower-priced companion IEMs for their outstanding range of DAPs.

Zeta is far more than that. It’s a premium tribrid flagship IEM that combines nine drivers in each titanium-steel earpiece, including four of Sonion’s newly-released third-generation electrostats. It also features a five-way crossover and five independent tubes that connect and conduct the mix of DD, BA and e-stat drivers, to great effect I might add.

To be honest, what’s more surprising is that in the months that followed the initial announcement there hasn’t been more fanfare about this IEM, but perhaps what I hinted at earlier – that HiBy is better known for its DAPs – is the reason why. I think Zeta has the potential to change all that, or at least put HiBy in the mix when it comes to choosing a modern kilobuck IEM.

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Packaging, design and fit

Everything about Zeta, from the unboxing to first impressions, feels premium. The multilayered box contains clever cutouts for the IEMs and different compartments for accessories, and it’s obvious that quite a bit of thought and preparation went into the unboxing experience.

The accessories themselves are premium too. HiBy includes a round (faux?) leather case in a similar blue-green colour to the leather case supplied with the flagship RS8 DAP. Inside the case is a balanced (4.4mm) 8-wire, 2-pin pure OCC cable, sheathed in a soft and supple PVC that contains the exotic Lapis Lazuli compound (which gives it its blue hue). Also included is a full set of three different types of tips: medium silicone, soft silicone (for a deeper fit) and silicone-wrapped foam (for better isolation).

Titanium seems to be flavour-of-the-month for premium products, and Zeta continues the theme with precision-milled titanium and stainless steel earpieces. Titanium is a lightweight metal, so despite their size, the earpieces are very light, ergonomic and silky smooth to the touch. Even with slightly thicker nozzles, I found fit, once seated properly (more on this below), to be very comfortable indeed, although there’s no way I’m getting a deep fit with these.

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I do have two issues at this point that need some addressing. First, the cable, while initially looking quite special, tends to lose its braiding shape when folded or stored, which gives it a ragged appearance after a while. If you take your time twisting it back into shape, the braids do tighten up again, but it’s worth noting that the shape doesn’t hold up as well as other cables I’ve used – not good for my aesthetic OCD. Ergonomics are very good though, with comfortable ear guides and zero microphonics, and the cable is very soft and supple, with excellent hardware quality at both ends.

The other, more pressing issue (if you’ll excuse the pun) is a vacuum pressure/pain sensation I get when using Zeta with its stock tips, and numerous third-party tips as well. This might well be an anomaly of my ear anatomy though, because I haven’t read about this issue elsewhere, and speaking to other Zeta users, it hasn’t been mentioned. It’s also unusual; I’ve had this suction issue before with unvented IEMs like Oriolus Traillii, but never with a vented IEM like Zeta.

Thankfully there are certain tips, like Azla EarFit, that seem to eliminate the problem for me, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re sensitive to pressure pain in your ears.

Overall, Zeta’s presentation and industrial design is impressive. HiBy has clearly gone to great lengths to make sure its premium IEMs are made, styled and presented as such, and have succeeded admirably. Considering Zeta is priced significantly lower than many other flagships in its class, it appears to be a great value buy. Whether or not that holds up in practice, we’ll find out next.

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Sound impressions

I tested Zeta using a broad selection of test tracks from my library, which predominantly comprises newer music of the female vocal indie persuasion, along with pop, synth-pop, classic rock, cinematic and singer-songwriter classics. I also sampled various other music types I occasionally listen to, like EDM, ambient, classical and vocal jazz, and where relevant, I’ve included track notes in the review.

All listening was done with a variety of sources too, primarily using HiBy’s flagship RS8 DAP (which, as you’ll see in the pairings section, is an almost perfect companion for Zeta for my preferences). With a sensitivity of 112dB and low 9-ohm rating, Zeta is very easy to drive, but seems to scale up nicely – especially with bass control and stage dimensions – given more power. As such it can be used with just about any source, including basic smartphones, but handsomely rewards more powerful amplification and DAC quality.

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Tonality

I hear Zeta’s tonal shape as a skewed-left W, with elevated but well-controlled bass rising just above a centred midrange with very slight upper midrange emphasis, and a relaxed treble with some mid-to-upper treble accents. This is by no means a V-shaped IEM since mids are clear and distinct despite the bass emphasis, and isn’t quite U-shaped either since treble is not pushed too far forward.

Bass is the star of the show, for me (which, if you know me, bodes well for the remainder of this review). Play the opening bass drum salvo to A Fine Frenzy’s Elements and you’ll hear a satisfyingly deep, powerful, visceral bass response, with a gloriously bouncy impact and the sort of natural decay you’ll only get from a good dynamic driver.

The balance between sub- and midbass is fairly even, with enough physical rumble down low to render the subtle sub-bass accents in Kristin Hersch’s Your Ghost, though it doesn’t quite reach as low as sub-bass specialists like Sony’s IER-Z1R. This is something I also noted in Lana Del Rey’s Video Games, where the sub-bass drops aren’t quite as emphasised as I’ve heard them, and yet don’t disappoint either.

There’s a tactile physicality to Zeta’s midbass on both the tracks above that gives the overall bass balance as reassuring weight. Real drums are rendered realistically across the frequency range, with accurate and natural impact and decay. Listen to the live and mostly instrumental rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Halleluja from Sincerely, L. Cohen and you’ll feel like you’re in the auditorium with the drummer.

Despite the bass excellence, Zeta is not a bass monster like some other modern sets. It doesn’t have the sheer elevation of Empire Ears’ Legend X or EVO, or the unapologetic midbass overload of FiR Audio’s Xe6. It’s a tactile bass with superb texture, particularly when paired with a high-end source like HiBy’s RS8. The ripples of bass texture in Lily Kershaw’s Always & Forever are one of the highlights of that track for me, and the combination of Zeta and RS8 makes the absolute most of the experience.

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For a bass-forward set, Zeta is remarkably balanced. Midrange notes, from the lowest male vocal registers to the highest, sweetest upper midrange female vocals, are rendered clearly, emotively and without veil.

Nothing pushes my audio buttons more than the synergy of powerful bass and clear, full female vocals, and Zeta absolutely nails it here. The contrast of deep synth drums with Linda Ronstadt’s heavenly-sweet and nuanced voice in Dreams to Dream is tear inducing, as is the interplay between the upright bass plucks that play against Lisa Ekdahl’s sugary vocals in Nature Boy.

The latter is an excellent example of Zeta’s midrange clarity, resolve and timbral accuracy, piano keys striking realistically across the registers, the highest notes sitting just in front of the upright bass on the stage, and perfectly balanced with the distinct and separated vocals. There’s absolutely no veiling of the midrange, even in bass-laden tracks like Lorde’s The Louvre.

In fact, vocals, especially female vocals, are pushed slightly forward on some tracks, likely the result of the upper midrange lift. This does mean that tracks with already-forward mids can get testy at higher volumes, but I listen louder than most and it’s rarely an issue I’ve come across. You won’t want to turn up the dial too high on Angel Olden’s Lark, for example, but that’s true with most IEMs to be fair, and a slight reduction in female overtones using HiBy’s excellent MSEB EQ on the RS8 quickly tames any errant upper-mid recording issues.

If Zeta has any strikes against it at all, this lack of absolute midrange refinement might be one, at least when compared to multi-kilobuck midrange specialists like Vision Ears’ Phönix or Oriolus’ Traillii. It’s a nitpick, though, and the sheer quality of the midrange delivery more than compensates for a few rough edges on the rare extreme track, in my opinion.

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This quality is consistent, too, from bass to midrange and especially treble. With a new generation of quad EST drivers, you’d expect Zeta’s treble to be fast, fluid and resolving, and while it is, it’s also more restrained and less ethereal than most other EST-infused treble I’ve heard before. It also has plenty of sparkle, with the glimmering highlights in Lisa Gerard’s Now We Are Free adding a spine-tingling element to what is an already transcendent track.

I sometimes find EST treble to dominate and dry out the upper harmonic registers of female vocals, adding too much air to the mix, something that turned me off from Vision Ears’ EXT for example. Listening to Maggie Rogers’ pristine vocals on Satellite (recorded in a high-school music studio when she was seventeen), and every ounce of sweet warmth that I was missing with EXT is back with Zeta. I’m still ‘feeling’ plenty of air, and while it’s not adversely affecting vocals, those who want their EST air dialed up to max might want to look elsewhere.

HiBy tastefully dips lower treble by 3-4dB (to my ear anyway, I’m yet to see an official graph), which totally eliminates any semblance of sibilance on just about any track. Missy Higgins’ cover of Shark Fin Blues is a case in point, where too much lower treble energy makes for piercings esses and tssts on this track. With Zeta, Missy’s voice is as smooth and sibilant-free as I’ve heard it.

That said, the slight upper mid boost can make the contrast between upper midrange and the lower treble dip seem more pronounced than it should be, but again, this is rare and very track dependent. The lower treble drip doesn’t rob Zeta of any energy or clarity in that region, and the equally-tasteful mid-to-upper treble boost ensures that treble doesn’t drop off a cliff.

That boost adds a sprightliness to orchestral strings that makes listening to Max Richter’s rendition of Vivaldi’s Winter 1 an absolute pleasure. The resolution advantage of the quad EST’s is most evident on this type of track, as is Zeta’s natural timbre. The combination of the highs of the strings and the lows of the bass on this track is another example of the interplay I mentioned earlier than makes Zeta such a pleasure for me personally.

Overall, I find Zeta’s tonality strikes a delicate balance between warmth and clarity. It’s unquestionably coloured, but not to the point where it dominates with colour (like Xe6, for instance). Some will find the treble too polite, or the bass too punchy, but it also shies away from being too aggressive. That’s a good thing, in my opinion, but if you lean more intense in your preferences, you’ll probably want to try before you buy.

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Technicalities

While it’s still a very pricey IEM at $1300, you’d expect some compromises compared to summit-fi IEMs that cost thousands more, and technical performance is normally where those compromises are made. Not so with Zeta, at least not to my ears.

One of the first things I listen for when evaluating IEM technical performance is stage size. If you want the widest stage possible, Zeta’s isn’t going to blow you away, though I don’t see that as a con. Ottmar Liebert and Luna Negra’s La Luna is a naturally-wide binaural recording and I’m not sensing any loss of that natural width with Zeta. It’s also got a depth to the stage that’s absent from many IEMs, with the clap effects in this track sitting notably deeper than some of the instruments, for instance.

Yanni’s cinematic Santorini is another example of how Zeta spreads out the stage very naturally. There’s nothing constricted or intimate about it, even though it ‘lacks’ the vastness of stage of an IER-Z1R or the holography of an Xe6, I’m not missing these qualities when listening to Zeta, which has its own character compared to those highly-revered IEMs.

Resolution is excellent for an IEM with a thicker tonal weight like Zeta. It’s not ‘fake’ resolution either, with treble being polite as it is. There’s not a single detail that I’m missing from Radical Face’s Welcome Home – and if you’re intimately familiar with this track, you’ll know how nuanced and detailed it is.

Whether it’s tiny vocal inflections and ‘mouth feel’ in Heidi Talbot’s closely-micced Cathedrals, or finger plucks on strings in Nils Lofgren’s reference-quality recording of Keith Don’t Go, Zeta doesn’t miss a thing. And it presents this detail without ever pushing the treble too hard, adding too much air, or leaning too bright. It all sounds perfectly natural and more importantly believable, which is probably an apt description of Zeta’s sound as a whole.

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Yosi Horikawa’s Bubbles is another classic track where not only stage size and resolution but so many other technical elements come into play. I’m hearing a naturally large stage with above average resolution, layering, separation and imaging when listening with Zeta on high-end sources like RS8 and DX300 MAX.

Every ‘ball drop’ (excuse the crudeness, but how else would you describe it?) is perfectly resolved, with the different weight and material of balls and ‘bubbles’ clearly discernible. There’s no smearing of transients either, which is impressive given the powerful bassline that permeates this track. In fact, I’d go as far as to say Zeta presents this track more vividly and incisively than almost any other IEM I’ve heard it with.

So where does Zeta fall short technically? Probably the fine margins. Comparing to other IEMs, which I’ll summarise in the next section, Zeta doesn’t have the absolute clarity and resolution of IEMs like Sony’s IER-Z1R and Campfire’s Supermoon. It also doesn’t share the pinpoint precision of these two IEMs, but in turn is both more resolving and precise than Custom Art’s FIBAE 5, another set I rate very highly. It probably also lacks the sheer dynamism of IEMs like Xe6, and, as mentioned earlier, the stage dimensions of Z1R and Xe6 respectively.

But are these night and day differences? That really depends on how driven you are to extract the very last bit of technical performance from an IEM, how much you’re willing to compromise on tonal balance, and how much you want to pay for the privilege.

I personally haven’t heard an IEM with Zeta’s rich tonal balance that’s also an uncompromising technical performer, or put differently, none of the technically ‘flawless’ IEMs I’ve heard have Zeta’s combination of powerful dynamic bass, vocal acuity and pristine, edge-free treble in one package. Moreover, I feel Zeta’s technical performance is as good as any I’ve heard in its price tier, and better than some costlier options too.

As a nine-driver hybrid, it also has an inherent technical advantage over single dynamic driver IEMs while maintaining the coherency and natural timbre of their dynamic driver sound. Stage, resolution, and all the other checkboxes are a step-up from the likes of Sennheiser’s similarly-priced IE 900 and SoftEars’ $2,500 Turii Ti – save perhaps the clarity on the SoftEars – and I prefer Zeta’s tonality over both.

Overall, I find Zeta a capable kilobuck-level technical performer, and if you click with its tonal balance like I do, it’s an IEM that’s could win your favour over many of its better-known, more established competitors.

Select comparisons

Custom Art FIBAE 5
($999). In my recent FIBAE 5 review I summed up Custom Art’s new tribrid custom IEM as ‘the consummate kilobuck all-rounder’, and Zeta doesn’t change that assessment.

Although I consider Zeta a more enjoyable IEM, FIBAE 5 takes an evenhanded approach to its tuning that will likely win broader appeal. FIBAE 5 combines bass that’s punchy but not quite as authoritative as Zeta’s, a clear but slightly softer and thinner midrange, and a treble that’s more extended and present, if a little peaky at times.

Zeta is a more accomplished technical performer, though you might argue that FIBAE’s cleaner midrange and planar treble give it a slight clarity edge. FIBAE 5 is comparatively conservative and relaxed, with Zeta more engaging, lively and fun.

As a package, Zeta ships with a better cable, nicer accessories, and while it’s difficult to compare a titanium-shelled universal IEM to a work-of-art resin custom, Zeta just about shades FIBAE 5’s still exceptional build quality for me.

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Campfire Audio Supermoon ($1500). Another custom IEM I reviewed a short while ago, Campfire’s Supermoon is still the most technically gifted IEM I’ve heard in its price range, and while its tonality is far more divisive, for the music it plays well with, it has a unique sound that’s hard to beat.

Despite sporting a single planar dynamic driver, compared to Zeta, Supermoon is more resolving and quite a bit faster, though it lacks the dynamic contrast and punch of Zeta’s beautifully-tuned dynamic driver. Stage size is similar on both, with Supermoon perhaps a touch wider, and it’s hard to beat Supermoon’s instrument and vocal separation at this level, in my opinion.

Tonally I find Zeta’s balance and warmth more natural and organic than Supermoon’s ‘digital’ presentation. That’s not necessarily a mark against Supermoon, especially for those who prefer their sound cleaner and leaner, and both IEMs share an innate musicality that steers well wide of analytical. There’s no question that Zeta has the more accurate timbre, more realistic voicing, and significantly thicker note weight, especially in the upper midrange and treble registers.

As with FIBAE 5, it’s difficult to compare build and fit between Zeta and Supermoon. At this level, both are excellent, as well-made as any I’ve seen at any price tier. I do prefer Supermoon’s thinner, lighter and more ergonomic cable, and since I generally prefer MMCX connectors to 2-pin, Supermoon gets my nod here too. I know that’s not a popular opinion, though, so you might find the opposite to be true.

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Sony IER-Z1R ($1,799). Sony’s peerless flagship is, to me, as fresh today as it was when it made its debut five years ago. Regardless of price, I’m yet to hear an IEM that delivers Z1R’s unique combination of liquid sub-bass, pristine female vocal clarity and pitch-perfect treble, inside a cavernous stage that presents the most lifelike, life-size soundscape I’ve heard in portable audio to date.

In Zeta, I’ve found an IEM that shares some of Z1R’s tonal traits, but mixes them up with its own flavour. Zeta has more midbass drive than Z1R, giving its bass a weightier, heavier and punchier character to Z1R’s textured, nuanced sub-focused rumble. Zeta’s midrange is audibly more forward than Z1R’s, especially male vocals, though Z1R still somehow edges Zeta for absolute clarity.

Where Zeta’s treble is sibilance-free and more relaxed, the Sony’s is more direct, incisive and clean, with a sparkle that’s truly class-leading. Some find Z1R’s treble too splashy with high-energy music, so picking between the two treble presentations will come down to preference. I find that both work equally well with most of my library.

Technically, Z1R is a step up from Zeta, which as I mentioned above, lacks very little in most departments. Z1R is tuned for clarity, whereas Zeta is slightly fuller and warmer, with thicker note weight. Z1R is more resolving, more precise, more open, painting with a finer brush as it were. That said, both sound lifelike and realistic, despite these differences.

Very few IEM manufacturers can challenge Sony from a packaging and build quality perspective, and HiBy is no different. Many will find Zeta an easier fit, however, with lighter and more ergonomic shells, but I’m one of the lucky few for whom Z1R fits like a glove (with the right tips, of course). As pretty and shiny as they are, Z1R’s Zirconium shells are also prone to micro scratches, which Zeta’s coated titanium alloy shells don’t seem to be.

Overall, the best compliment I can give Zeta in this comparison is that I have no hesitation picking it alongside Z1R to get the same level of enjoyment, especially from bass and vocals. Make of that what you will, but know that I can count on one hand the number of other IEMs I can say that about.

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Select pairings

Zeta is a warm-sounding IEM for sure, but it’s not dark, nor veiled or dry. It’s also not so warm that it doesn’t play well with warm-leaning sources. It has great synergy with all my DAPs, all of which are warmer than neutral, but if you prefer a more neutral, lighter or brighter sound, the combination of Zeta and brighter sources may be more to your liking.

HiBy RS8. HiBy’s flagship DAP, RS8 features a pleasant warm-of-neutral tonality with a distinctly analogue-sounding R2R character, and amplification that elevates it to the top of the portable player technical performance charts too. To me it feels like Zeta was tuned with RS8 in mind, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the marketing materials from HiBy featuring the pairing were taken long before Zeta was a known entity.

Since RS8 is my baseline for Zeta’s sound, I can only compare it to other sources by proxy. Everything I’ve described about Zeta to this point is drawn mainly from my experience of it with RS8. Zeta does change its profile to some degree with different sources, but to me achieves an almost perfect symbiosis of sound and function – including the minor MSEB tweaks I touched on in the review – with RS8.

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iBasso DX300 MAX. I recently purchased iBasso’s ‘flagship’ DAP as a replacement for the last of my desktop sources, wanting a transportable alternative with desktop-grade driving power for my IEMs. In the DX300 MAX I found what I was after, along with a smooth, slightly warm and somewhat organic sound profile despite its delta sigma DAC.

The biggest difference I hear with the DX300 Max with Zeta is its absolutely effortless bass control. Bass notes are tighter, and land with more impact compared to RS8 – which is itself a superb bass performer. ‘3MAX’ takes bass control to a different level, separating it even further from the other frequencies while sharpening its focus and resolution. Where it doesn’t quite match RS8 is in vocal purity, although I find Zeta’s midrange better-resolved and slightly cleaner with the iBasso.

I also hear Zeta’s treble to be a touch more relaxed and ethereal with the DX300 MAX compared to RS8. It’s also more resolving, with a grander stage in all dimensions.

Sony WM1Z. There’s something to be said about Sony synergy, which is the main reason I bought Sony’s ‘gold brick’ to pair with Z1R, but I’m happy to say it’s equally at home with Zeta.

Some might tell you to steer clear of warmer sources like WM1Z with Zeta, but I personally don’t find Sony’s flagship (non-Android) Walkman to be skewed too warm in the first place. Instead, I find that unique combination of excitable yet rich, smooth and expansive Sony house sound to work well with Zeta’s natural tonality.

I also don’t hear Zeta’s bass as elevated any further than it is with RS8, which is to say tastefully elevated but not overdone for my preferences. In some ways it hits harder than RS8, but doesn’t have quite the same resolving power as the HiBy, or the delicate control of the 3MAX. Midrange notes are clear and concise, reminiscent of the 3MAX, while treble is given a touch more bite than the HiBy and iBasso, making Zeta sound a touch more excitable.

Like Z1R, some say Sony’s Walkman is showing its age, but I still find it to be competitive at the highest level with modern DAPs, and given fresh sounding, easily-driven IEMs like Zeta, very much has a place in any collection where streaming and Android functionality are not a priority.

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Closing thoughts

If you’ve made it to this point without skipping a line, you’ll know that HiBy’s Zeta is quite a revelation. Not only is it an excellent performer at its price point, it’s the complete package in almost every aspect I look for in a top-tier IEM.

Tonally, Zeta is a smooth operator, with a warm, inviting sound that doesn’t oversaturate the music with colour, staying true to the spirit of most modern recordings while adding some welcome meat to the bones of older, thinner-sounding productions. With a bass delivery that’s as precise as it is powerful, there’s a weighty foundation to almost any track I play, with an organic, natural midrange and a thicker, more relaxed treble that’s still sparkly when called for and has enough air for most.

Zeta is one of the few IEMs that lets me play right through my library, discovering new details and aspects to music I’m already familiar with, and I’m yet to find a track that has me reaching for the skip button. This is a rare quality that I prioritise and value above most others, especially when the price sits north of a kilobuck.

I’d be remiss not to mention the sub-par cable braiding quality, and the mysterious suction effect I get with certain tips, despite the venting. But these are nitpicks that are quickly forgotten once the music starts playing. I have even less to complain about in terms of sound quality, and while I’ve heard a more refined midrange to treble transition, there are few examples I can use to showcase a more appealing sonic presentation for my preferences.

Anyone who dismisses Zeta as just another companion IEM from a DAP maker is potentially missing the opportunity to hear one of the most enjoyable IEMs I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing at any price. In fact, at its price, I consider Zeta to be one of the best-value high-end IEMs you can buy today, and it gets my highest possible recommendation.

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This review first appeared on The Headphone List.
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