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Hidizs Mermaid MS1

Rating:
4.5/5,
  1. cleg
    Younger brother
    Written by cleg
    Published Feb 13, 2019 at 8:53 AM
    4.5/5,
    Pros - design, build quality, accessories set, price, sound
    Cons - lower mids could be more forward
    1-Main Pic.jpg
    Hidizs obviously enjoyed the idea of Kickstart platform preorders for their new projects. After a successful campaign for their Hidizs AP80 player, they decided to try the same approach for their new IEMs and started the crowdfunding for two new models. Today we will take a closer look at the junior model.

    I would like to thank Hidizs for providing me with a review sample of MS1 in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.

    Both IEMs adopted the codename - Mermaid. In fact, they look rather similar both in terms of appearance and packaging. The difference between them is that MS1 are single-driver dynamic IEMs and MS4, that I haven’t got for review, unfortunately, add 3 more Balanced Armature drivers to dynamic. Both models can be pre-ordered in three variants: basic, with single addon of choice or with all add-ons. Among the add-ons are the balanced cable of enhanced quality, Bluetooth cable and USB-C cable with DAC (and it is good if it is the same one used in Hidizs Sonata).

    2-Box.jpg

    Prices are average on the market currently. The junior model starts from 150 USD (100 USD during the crowdfunding campaign). Senior is planned to be sold for 300 USD, but currently, its price starts from 220 USD.

    Technical specifications
    • Driver: 10.2 mm dynamic driver
    • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 40 kHz
    • Sensitivity: 109 dB/mW
    • Impedance: 18Ω
    • Cable: replaceable, 0.78mm 2-pin
    • Weight: 16 gr
    Packaging and Accessories

    The IEMs came in the standard Hidizs cardboard box with silver embossing. The contents of the box resemble the flagship FiiO models. According to how the accessories are placed in the box, highly likely that they are made on the same factory. Besides IEMs there is a cable, plastic case and 12 pairs of eartips (3 pairs of 4 types): foam, bassy, balanced, and treble-oriented, that are named “vocal”.

    It is likely for the senior model to have a better case (some images on the net suggest artificial leather).
    Those enhanced accessories will be present for those who purchase add-ons.

    3-Accessories.jpg

    Accessories set is very good for this price.

    Design and usability

    The appearance of new IEMs dispel doubts about relationships with FH5. The IEMs seem to be similar except faceplates. Bodies are made of quality metal. Shape exploits stylized universal representation of custom IEMs. There are three available colors: dark gray, blue and red. My gray variant sports a great shiny insertion on the outer side of IEMs. Here you can also find the company name and logo.

    The shape of IEMs is well thought over and MS1 can easily fit any ear, however, they can still be a little large for too small ears, but it is a rare case. The sound hook has normal length and ensures above-average isolation and comfy usage over long periods of time.

    4-Overview.jpg

    The IEMs are designed to be worn over the ear and it will be almost impossible to wear them “cable down” even if you change the cable itself. The cable is, of course, detachable and Hidizs chose 2-pin connectors, probably because they did not want to crash into MMCX problems). It is rather simple, at least in MS1 model - usual silicone isolation, ear hooks without memory effect, twisted spiral after the Y-split up to the jack. The cable is, however, good in everyday use - it is not too noisy, springy enough not to be prone to entangling and does not stiffen in cold conditions.

    General build quality is good, there are no problems or faults here. IEMs look strict and respectable and look very attractive.

    5-Stylish Shot.jpg

    Sound
    For testing I've used following source: Lotoo Paw Gold Touch, Astell&Kern SP1000, theBit OPUS#2, Yulong DA9 and Resonessence Labs Concero HP.

    Prior to testing, I allowed 48 hours of burn-in. The changes were detected only during the first 3 hours.

    Testing this model I realized that MS1 is a half of hybrid IEMs. In fact, it is a good dynamic model that can easily benefit if you add some armature correctly, and I hope that Hidizs really succeeded in MS4 in this regard.

    Bass is something that you instantly pay attention to here. It has good depth and firmness that will appeal to those listeners who love rolling and rumbling bass sounds. Of course, the bass is not armature in terms of resolution, however, for dynamic bass, it has rather good speed and this makes it sound well-layered and containing micro-details. Overall the bass is balanced and well-controlled, not interfering into the middle.

    6-Without Tips.jpg

    Mids are tuned in the way to have a typical V-shape with a macro-detail accent. The upper mids are almost perfect - they are slightly moved forward and have a good resolution that helps female vocals sound expressive, gives guitars needed aggression and ensures the presence of all other positive moments of accentuated upper mids. Lower mids sometimes lack presence. Luckily it can be heard on some tracks only. The soundstage is average in terms of width and a little smaller in depth, but the separation of instruments and layering are very good, there is no congestion.

    Treble is somewhat accentuated, but it is done carefully and is not abundant. However, if you are a treble-sensitive person, I advise you to audition those IEMs before the purchase. Attacks and decays are a little shorter than normal, but in general have good length, although not great. The resolution is good and there is a good balance with bass.

    As there are many models in this price category I have chosen only some of them (arguably the most popular) for comparison.

    7-Sides.jpg

    Ostry KC09 How can I omit them? Ostry’s are slightly more flat in mids and have less bass and treble. MS1 has better bass depth too.

    Whizzer A15 Pro It is a more flat model as well with slightly better resolution but less weight and depth of bass.

    iBasso IT01 IT01 have more aggressive sound with even more accentuated upper part of the frequency range. The bass has more speed than in MS1 but doesn’t have such depth.

    Matchability

    MS1 are very balanced IEMs in terms of impedance and sensitivity and they are easily driven by any sources. They are colored and do not require a top player.

    In terms of style, the IEMs will suit to the genres with good and weighty bass required - from pop-music to jazz with contrabass. MS1 are not very sensitive to the quality of recording - approximately 5 of 10.

    8-With AP80.jpg

    Example tracks

    Röyksopp — Alpha Male (Live 2) I don’t like live recordings in general, but sometimes there are exclusions that break my preferences easily and throw them away. This track is exactly the one. With MS1 it will not only provide you with a good rhythm-section but will let you dig deeper into the live concert atmosphere.

    Pat Metheny — And I Love Her Of course it is not Wichita Falls, but nevertheless a very good example of guitar jazz. And of course it requires better IEMs (maybe MS4, eh?), but MS1 play this track really well, mainly because of the correct tonal balance.

    The Handsome Family — Far from Any Road Shame, but I do not know anything about this band. For sure, I might google it, but for some reason, I don’t want to. Anonymity gives an advantage to this outstanding vocal duet. MS1 cope well with vocal emotions and instrumental part.

    Verdict

    While I was writing this review, the MS1 gathered several times more than the goal that was set on Kickstarter, confirming again that crowdfunding campaigns are a success. However, there is enough time and if you search for interesting IEMs for a good price, Hidizs Mermaid may be one of the options to look at.

    As usual, I've made the video version of review for those who prefer it.

      PlantsmanTX likes this.
  2. IryxBRO
    Hidizs Mermaid MS1 — new approach, great bargain
    Written by IryxBRO
    Published Feb 4, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - good, exposed mids, good resolution, great treble extension, excellent fit
    Cons - a bit more deep bass needed wtih some DAPs but good with USB DAC cable
    [​IMG]

    Hidizs is currently preparing two new models of in-ear monitors under a common name and some features shared between the two. Main code name is «Mermaid» with the additional labels «MS4» and «MS1». Mermaid MS4 is more advanced hybrid model based on three BA drivers by Knowles and one dynamic driver while MS1 features the same single dynamic driver unit.

    [​IMG]

    Along with good technical specifications Hidizs has found the way to make their IEMs a versatile choice for all future customers: from a casual user to the most advanced audiophiles. The main feature of Hidizs Mermaid family is the amount of different connectivity options to choose from, allowing almost any audio source and exempting from the additional adaptors.

    Both models would be officially launched on Kickstarter, 7th Feb, 8:00AM EST.

    We’ve already got a chance to examine pre-sales samples of both models and would like to share our opinion in this review.

    Mermaid MS4 & MS1 technical specifications:

    [​IMG]

    Mermaid IEMs structure:

    [​IMG]

    Other features:
    • Hidizs patented 10.4mm macromolecule diaphragm offers more consistent internal loss across all frequencies to deliver subtle highs and smoother bass
    • Durable aluminum alloy cavity enhances the sound cohesion. The housing made of smooth resin with brushed metal.
    Connectivity options:
    • stock OFC, 4 strands cable with 2pin, 0.78mm IEM connectors and 3.5mm audio jack (always included)
    OR/AND
    • 2.5mm or 4.4mm balanced audio jack, OFC, 4 strands cable with 2pin, 0.78mm IEM connectors (optional accessory, available during KS campaign and afterwards) We are also checking with Hidizs on how to select 4.4mm instead 2.5mm during KS campaign.
    • DH 10-RC microUSB Type-C Cable with integrated DAC, built-in microphone for voice calls and 2pin, 0.78mm IEM connectors (optional accessory)
    • Bluetooth 5.0 cable with 2pin, 0.78mm IEM connectors (optional accessory)
    As seen from the KS page, Hidizs decided to allow three ordering bundles for MS4 and MS1:
    • BASIC KIT: 3.5mm unbalanced audio cable
    • PRIME KIT: 3.5mm unbalanced audio cable + ANY other option (2.5mm or 4.4mm balanced / DAC cable / Bluetooth cable)
    • ABSOLUTE KIT: 3.5mm unbalanced audio cable + ALL options (2.5mm or 4.4mm balanced + DAC cable + Bluetooth cable)
    Prices for different sets are already listed on Hidizs MS4 & MS1 KS page.

    Packaging, design and materials:

    Both models come in pretty large black matt boxes with brand logo, shematic pictures and model names embossed at the top cover and technical description at the back.

    [​IMG]

    We are not sure what is pushing the trend of developing huge packaging for tiny devices but it is certainly a pain for logistics in terms of shipping quantity and expenses. At the same time, no worries about the damage during the transportation and good feel of valuable possession :)

    [​IMG]

    Inner box compartments are split into two layers. Top layer is formed by soft foam retaining IEMs and stock cable:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    while the bottom layer contains several sets of exchangeable eartips and storage cases:

    [​IMG]

    Box contents:

    Mermaid MS4
    • MS4 IEMs
    • 3.5mm unbalanced cable
    • 9 pairs of silicone eartips
    • 3 pairs of memory foam eartips
    • leather storage case
    Mermaid MS1
    • MS1 IEMs
    • 3.5mm unbalanced cable
    • 9 pairs of silicone eartips
    • 3 pairs of memory foam eartips
    • plastic storage case
    [​IMG]

    So, the only difference in box contents between two models is the design of storage cases.

    [​IMG]

    All other accessories such as stock audio cable and 4 sets of eartips are completely the same. Moreover, Hidizs has decided to identify different sets of eartips according to general influence it makes towards the sound: balanced, vocal and bass.

    [​IMG]

    Not sure if it would produce the same results for everyone due to very personal perception and ear structure but it is a good indicator to give a clue what different eartips are designed for.

    Back to IEMs: both models share the same design and shape of aluminum-alloy shells. The only difference is MS4 top cover pad which is made of transparent resin with brand logo printed underneath it, while the same element of MS1 is made of aluminum with brand logo imprints at top.

    [​IMG]

    Shells are made of three parts: base with matt finish, polished golden cover and top aluminum or resin pad. The alignment of all three parts is perfect and the gap between the base and top cover is hardly visible.

    [​IMG]

    Channel indicators are located at the back edge of the bases. No need to dig the net to understand the right way of cable connection. BTW — corresponding channel indicators on the cable should be pointing inwards.

    [​IMG]

    Two compensational openings for each channel: one is near the channel indicator and another one is close to the output nozzle on the inner part of the base.

    [​IMG]

    Output nozzles are also made of aluminum and protected by grills. It is not unibody construction where the nozzles would protrude from the base but still feels very durable and monolithic.

    [​IMG]

    2pin, 0.78mm connector bases are made of transparent plastic, don’t show any free play and feel quite tough when inserting cable pins. Seems that this furniture is quite expensive.

    [​IMG]

    Stock cables with 3.5mm unbalanced plugs are made of oxigen-free copper (4 strands), feature flexible transparent earguides, transparent plastic 2pin connector, aluminum Y-splitter, limiter and audio jack housing. All aluminum elements have similar rough pattern for a better grip.

    [​IMG]

    In overall, both models look beautiful and very attractive. The design is even better in real life. All elements are perfectly crafted, all imprints are neat and clean. MS4 top cover pad and golden brand logo underneath it adds some additional value but we think that both models deserve the highest score for their stunning externals.

    [​IMG]

    Fit comfort:

    Despite having quite large dimensions and thick profile, Mermaid IEMs feel very comfortable. We would place those among several other most comfortable models like Kinera Idun or Shozy & NEO CP to wear for long, non-disturbing listening sessions. This is not only about the natural shape but also about convenient stock cable earguides that relieve the physical tension from your ears.

    [​IMG]

    Optional accessories:
    1. Optional cables with 2.5mm or 4.4mm balanced jacks are identical to stock 3.5mm audio cable and feature the same elements described above.
    [​IMG]

    2. Audio cable with integrated DAC (DH 10-RC): probably the most interesting and intriguing optional accessory which provides better driving potential and overall sound quality to those who would like to use IEMs with their smartphones, PCs or tablets.

    [​IMG]

    Hidizs has been successfully selling Sonata HD DAC Cable (USB DAC -> 3.5mm adapter) for a long time with good feedback from the majority of the customers. As far as we understand, DAC cable for Mermaid IEMs is a combination of Sonata HD DAC cable with regular 2pin, 0.78mm audio cable.

    DH 10-RC DAC cable specifications:
    • Connector: microUSB Type-C (+ USB A adaptor)
    • DAC chip: CS42L42
    • Sample rate: 24bit/192kHz
    • Output power: 75mW + 75mW @32Ω
    • SNR: 117dB
    • Dynamic range: 115dB
    • THD: <0.0006%
    • Built-in microphone for voice calls
    • Built-in one button remote for answering calls
    • Connecction to IEMs: 2pin, 0.78mm
    • cable 1.2m, TPE, OFC, 4 core
    [​IMG]

    This upgrade cable comes in a separate box together with soft storage bag and USB A adapter.

    3. Bluetooth 5.0 cable. Unfortunately, it was not provided for the review and we can only guess on its quality, supported audio protocols and so on… We would update as soon as all of our questions about Bluetooth cable would be answered. No clue whether it would support UAT — the latest HiBY 24/192, 1.2Mbits/s protocol.

    Sound quality:

    Tested with AP80DAP, Redmi Note4X + DAC cable

    Lows and midbass:

    [​IMG]

    MS1:

    While resolving good amounts of textures, MS1 deep bass extension is moderate. Deep bass lacks some presence and the entire picture exhibits more emphasis on midbass while many tracks would still require more volume of lows. Couple of inputs to EQ did a good job but if to evaluate this section with no additional editing from the source side — we would say that MS1 IEMs would be a better option for those who doesn’t pay much of attention to bass portion. The peculiar thing here is that when we have tried USB DAC cable instead of AP80 DAP the situation has changed dramatically. The lack of lows has vanished completely and this portion gained a lot in the entire sound picture. Therefore, having good texturing and good speed plus the dark source with the additional emphasis on lows would bring MS1 lower end much closer to MS4 or other good and more expensive rivals.

    Midbass section sounds good, dynamics, articulation and power are appropriate for ntural and engaging drums. There is a certain accent on midbass in the sound when paired with AP80 DAP but it fades away when DAC cable is used.

    Mids and vocals:

    [​IMG]

    MS1:

    MS1 mids is a good example of getting very good performance from a single dynamic driver. Resolution of mids is quite high while entire presentation feels very linear. MS1 extends this good characteristic of MS4 and equializes male to female vocals even further. No biting peaks on female vocals in the most suffering tracks, voices are better exposed and brought closer to the stage front. Sound of instruments and vocals is similarly rich and thick. Instruments have a good level of separation, don’t tend to mix and creat good imaginary stage. MS1 mids are warm, quite smooth and exposed.

    Treble:

    [​IMG]

    MS1:

    MS1 treble resolution and extension are quite impressive for dynamic driver model. It feels clear and transparent and at the same time do not produce extra sibilances or noise. Of course, hard to directly compete with BA drivers but at least the treble is in good balance with the mids and doesn’t suffer from lack of details or dynamics. We would say that MS1 treble is one of its main virtues, especially when used with USB DAC cable. Yes, again, we have noticed that USB DAC cable exposes both ends of MS1 better, which seems to produce more appealing results in overall.

    [​IMG]

    Sound stage:

    MS4 & MS1:

    Sound stage produced by both models is moderate and quite similar to each other with only a slight advantage on MS4 side as it creates more room on lows and defines vertical domain with better treble extension. MS1 stage feels a bit deeper due to better exposure of vocals and mids. There were only few and more expensive IEMs on our tests that we would definitely point out as having obviously larger stage. Therefore, MS4 and MS1 are neither clear winners nor the outsiders in this respect.

    Sound summary:

    [​IMG]

    MS1:

    MS1 sound can be described as fairly balanced, with slightly exposed and pretty balanced mids, moderate bass extension, good midbass and impressive treble for dynamic IEMs. Entire sound picture is warm, focused on vocals and instruments in mids.

    USB DAC cable performance:

    [​IMG]

    As already mentioned — USB DAC cable emphasizes lows and treble ranges, has enough driving ability for both models (doubles the output power of a regular smartphone) and handles midbass and overall dynamics much better. It does also outperform smartphones or PC audio outputs in terms of resolution and amount of details. More information can be found in our review of Sonata HD cable.

    MS1 compared to Tanchjim Darkside:

    [​IMG]

    Tanchjim Darkside are beautifully crafted single dynamic driver IEMs with dark and warm sound. Lower end extension and texturing are great but mids and treble are influenced a lot by that to get a specific signature as the result. MS1 sound more delicate and balanced, only moderately warm and dark, with much better treble presence and exposed mids.

    MS1 compared to Anew U1:

    [​IMG]

    Perhaps, the hardest comparison here. We love Anew U1 single dynamic driver IEMs for fairly balanced performance, great lows and clean treble. There are some flaws like driver flex (no compensational opening), not the perfect (but good) fit and tendency to have that harsh peak on female vocals for the most treble sensitive people. MS1 do have a better fit, don’t show the problem with driver flex and have better equalization of male to female vocals (less tendency to harsh peaks). At the same time, extension of lows is not that great as in Anew U1. Therefore, we would recommend MS1 over Anew U1 for upper mids — lower treble sensitive people.

    [​IMG]

    Conclusion:

    After spending several days examining, listening and reviewing Mermaid MS4 and MS1 IEMs, we think that Hidizs has done a great job on everything: creating good hybrid and dynamic IEMs in terms of crafting and sound quality, developing the new and more universal approach that would satisfy the needs of the vast majority of audio fans and finally — setting the adequate price tag that perfectly describes the capabilities of both models. Our own findings show that more advanced Mermaid MS4 model is worthy of the highest scores and reasonably placed between $180 — 270 hybrid rivals that we have tested already, while Mermaid MS1 based on single dynamic driver is on par with more expensive rivals and capable of even more impressive results when paired with the most suitable audio source. Moreover, different connectivity options, cable with intergrated DAC as the most convenient and innovative solution create the additional value to the entire set.

    [​IMG]

    Our last advice would be to seriously consider getting one of those models during Kisckstarter campaign due to significant discount figures that seems to be quite a bargain. In case of getting MS1 IEMs — consider ordering it in bundle with DH 10-RC DAC cable as it seems to be a good pair.

    Link to Hidizs Mermaid MS4 & MS1 Kickstarter campaign that would start on 7th Feb, 8:00AM EST.