HIFIMAN TWS800

General Information

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Earbud charging time 1 hour
Charging Case charging time 2 hours
Standby Time 120 Hours
Battery life 4.5 hours
Battery life including charging case 31.5 hours
Bluetooth version 5.0
Charging port USB C
IPX 4 sweat proof & shower proof
Frequency Response : 20Hz-20kHz
Nano particle coating to driver's diaphragm
Metal casing
Ergonomic design
Audiophile tuned
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Latest reviews

True Sound, Wireless Performance!
Pros: balanced signature, natural detailed tonality, comfortable fit, touch controls for playback and volume, IPX4 rating, nice looking charging case.
Cons: case doesn’t support Qi wireless charging and has no exterior LED indicator when closed, SBC and AAC codec support only.


The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion. The review was originally posted on my site, and now I would like to share it with my readers on Head-fi.

Manufacturer website: Hifiman.


Intro.

I was a bit surprised when Hifiman asked me if I’m interested to check out their upcoming TWS800 true wireless stereo earphone considering that I mostly focus on testing and reviewing higher end wired IEMs and DAPs. Besides, I wasn’t even familiar with their previous TWS600 model, but the more I thought about it, the more I became curios and decided to give it a shot! Once TWS800 arrived and I spent the last week with them “glued” to my ears, I decided to put together a write up because it wasn’t just another generic pair of consumer-grade TWS. As a matter of fact, TWS800 shares Topology Diaphragm advanced driver design similar to RE800, perhaps the reason why this wireless model number is also 800.

Now, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at this brand new TWS earphone from Hifiman.

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Unboxing and Accessories.

Prior to receiving TWS800 I tried to Google the spec, but only gathered bits and pieces since it was not officially listed yet (that was back in September, right before the official release). Thus, I was looking forward to see the packaging, in hope of reading the actual spec, but to my surprise it was quite vague as well. The cover of the compact box it arrived in had a clear picture of TWS800 and the case and mentioning of “amazing sound quality”, while the back had a few bullet points about functionality. This made me only more curious about it.

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Inside, you have a soft foam insert with cutouts for IEMs and the charging case. And I mean it when I say IEMs because they did look like higher end IEMs, even kind of reminding me of their RE1000 CIEMs. With foam insert out, you can see a number of included accessories, such as usb-c charging cable, a storage velour drawstring pouch that was big enough to fit charging case, a warranty card and a very detailed manual, and a ton of eartips. Hifiman mentions 8pairs, while I counted 9 which could have been due to one already on earpieces. Those were S/M/L black silicone, M wide bore black silicone, S/M/L double flange black silicone, L triple flange black silicone, and L deep single flange white silicone tips.

Keep in mind, manual is VERY important since TWS earphones have different controls, so make sure you don’t throw it away.

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Design.

As I already mentioned, the exterior design of the shells has a more “audiophile” look, typical of higher end IEMs rather than airpods clones or fancy consumer earpieces that fit entirely in the concha area of your ear. The faceplate has a stainless-steel finish, matching the charging case, with a Hifiman logo and multi-color LED indicator. The inner part of the shell has rubbery-plastic material that changes to SS finish toward the nozzle which has a lip (to secure eartips from sliding off) and a mesh cover at the tip. There were also 2 charging contacts toward the edge, and L/R marking. Obviously, this is not a heavy SS but rather some lightweight aluminum alloy or whatever the material is, just with SS finish.

The earpieces itself are pretty lightweight, only 6.9g each, and the size is just average, around 25.6 x 20.2 x 27.6 mm. What I found to be quite useful is the actual shape of the faceplate and the shell, allowing me to hold these earbuds with a secure grip without pressing the touch control on the faceplate. And the same goes when TWS800 were in my ears and I needed to tap the faceplate, being able to grip the shell with two fingers without accidentally touching the faceplate. I know, we don’t always think about this aspect of design ergonomics, but with some of the other TWS I tried in the past I always end up touching controls when pushing shells into my ears. Here, I didn’t have any problem at all, plus, they stayed securely in my ears even while moving around.

The charging case is a nice-looking clamshell with a matching SS exterior finish. Inside you have 2 cavities for earpieces, aligned with charging contacts, deep enough to accommodate TWS800 with different size/shape eartips, and with a strong enough magnet to hold them securely inside while charging. There was also 4-LED indicator to show the status of charging case battery. My complain with a case is about charging LED indicator being visible only when case cover is open. When it is closed, you don’t have access to see any LED indicators and don’t know if case is charging or already done. Plus, it would have been nice to have Qi wireless pad charging capability in addition to usb-c charging port. Neither of these are showstoppers, but at least LED indicator would have been nice to have.

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Regarding what is “under the hood”. As I already mentioned, there is no full spec about actual drivers or wireless chipset, almost like Hifiman wanted to treat TWS800 as a “black box” so people would focus on the sound rather than components. But I was still able to find some info about the design. Don’t know how relevant this is, but TWS800 drivers actually have 150ohm impedance, more than double of RE800 IEMs 60ohm impedance. Of course, impedance doesn’t matter because you are not driving it from your DAP. But instead, these TWS use a built-in independent amplifier to drive TWS800 to its full potential as intended by Hifiman design.

One thing Hifiman did mention about drivers, they use Topology Diaphragm, similar to RE800/RE2000 design. I know RE models use 9.2mm DD, but I don’t want to speculate if TWS800 is the same. What makes these drivers unique is Nano particles coating (based on Dr Fang Bian Ph.D. thesis) applied in special geometric patterns. What Dr Fang discovered is by varying the surface pattern and using different Nano materials (each with its own unique property), you can control the acoustic performance of the driver. If you think about it, you literally micro-tuning the sound by applying a different Nano coating pattern. Plus, the structure of Topology diaphragm also reduces uncontrolled distortion typical of dynamic drivers.

And last, but not least, is the battery performance. At full charge earpieces will last about 4.5 hours of playback, and the charging case (with its 800mAh battery) will give you another 27 hours. Basically, you can get close to 6 full charges from the case. The total charging time of earpieces with a case is up to 2hrs, and you also get 120 hours of standby time.

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The fit.

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Functionality.

I wasn’t able to find what exact wireless chipset TWS800 is using, but I do know it supports Bluetooth 5.0, Class 2, and also 2 codecs: SBC and AAC. I don’t know if this is a limitation of the chipset, but it would have been nice to see support of aptX like in other TWS. Actually, to my surprise, even AAC yielded pretty good sound performance which I going to cover in the next section of the review.

Regarding pair up itself, it was effortless. With TWS, once you take them out of the case, they go automatically into pair up mode and you can easily discover and connect with any and every source I tried. Plus, I was able to have a solid connection about 30ft away from the source in the open space. And it also worked through the wall when I went into another room, around the corner from where the source was sitting.

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I used TWS800 with apps playing local audio files, streaming Qobuz and Amazon Music HD, watching YT, Netflix, etc. The audio and video were always in perfect sync, and in most of the cases I was able to control playback and adjust volume remotely without a problem. I will cover that also in more details later in my review.

And speaking of controls, I was pleased that TWS800 offers playback (play/pause/skip) and volume controls. Volume adjustment seems to be rare with TWS. Also, while reading the manual, it says that triple tap on R side skips Next, while I found the opposite which is less logical but still not a showstopper.

During phone calls, which, btw, have just an average quality with TWS800:
  • L/R – single tap to Accept/End the call, press and hold to Reject the call.
  • L/R – press and hold for 2 sec to activate phone’s voice control.
During audio playback:
  • L - single tap Play/Pause, double tap Vol-, triple tap Next track
  • R - single tap Play/Pause, double tap Vol+, triple tap Prev track
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Sound Analysis.

I analyzed TWS800 sound performance paired up with my Galaxy S9, Hiby R3 Pro, and A&K SR25 while playing a variety of test tracks, such as Agnes Obel “The curse”, Sandro Cavazza “So much better” (Avicii remix), C-Bool “Never go away”, Ed Sheeran “Shape of you”, Alan Walker “Darkside”, Galantis “Hunter”, Iggy Azalea “Black widow”, Indila “Boite en argent”, Dua Lipa “Love again”, Counting Crows “Big yellow taxi”, David Elias “Vision of her”, and Michael Jackson “Dirty Diana”. From my experience with RE800, their dynamic driver needed at least a few days of continuous burn in, so I didn’t jump to any conclusion until a few days of listening. And as I continued to listen more, I noticed the soundstage opening up and the sound becoming more transparent.

Like with many other universal IEMs, eartips selection is crucial not just for comfort and secure fit, but because of sound variation due to seal and insertion depth. Thus, please pay close attention to select the right pair of eartips. Personally, I found eartips with a narrower bore opening to yield more clarity and better retrieval of details.

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TWS800 tuning has a balanced sound signature with a clear and natural tonality and a rather good retrieval of details for this type of tuning. Not exactly analytical or micro-detailed, but natural organic details. Nothing stands out as exaggerated, you will not hear elevated bass or recessed mids or extra treble spikes, typical of other TWS or similarly priced IEMs. I’m hearing just a nicely done non-fatigue natural detailed tonality which I was able to enjoy during extended listening sessions.

The technical performance is not bad either. Though the layering of instruments and vocals is average since treble airiness is a bit reserved, the overall clarity and resolution was decent for TWS wireless pair of IEMs. Also, soundstage is wide, for sure above average, opening up even more after burn in, though I found it to have more depth than width. Nothing is congested and instruments and vocals have a relatively accurate positioning.

In more details, I hear bass to be articulate with a good sub-bass extension and deep rumble which comes out to play when called upon (like Iggy’s Black Widow). Mid-bass is fast and punchy with a good control and without spilling into mids (works great with any genre). Lower mids have above neutral body, giving the sound its natural tonality (vocals sound natural and soulful). Upper mids/vocals are transparent, natural, detailed - not too smooth or warm, and at the same time not too cold or analytical. Treble is well defined, natural, detailed, without any offensive peaks or harshness. Perhaps, treble is not too airy or super extended at the top end, but still well balanced with mids.

Comparison.

Since I don’t have too many TWS iems, it is hard to think of the best comparison. I have tried a number of TWS before, especially back when I attended CanJam NYC early this year, but I’m not a fan of A/B comparison by memory. What made sense to me is to compare TWS800 to its wired sibling RE800 gold/silver since they share the same driver tech.

TWS bass is a happy medium between RE800 gold and silver, more mid-bass punch and deeper sub-bass rumble than Gold, but not as elevated and with a better control and articulation than Silver. TWS mids have more body and sound more natural, not as lean and cold as Gold/Silver mids & vocals. Plus, TWS mids are not as distant and out of your head like in Gold/Silver, instead they bring you closer to the music, closer to the singer/performer. TWS treble has a good definition, though not as crisp and resolving as Silver and definitely more natural and less fatigue than Gold treble. The main difference is that Silver has a more V-shaped sound signature while Gold is more mid-forward due to its neutral bass. In contrast, TWS600 has a perfectly balanced W-shaped sound sig with even emphasis on lows, mids, and highs.

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Source pair up.

When it comes to wireless earphones and headphones, and especially TWS, many often forget that it doesn’t matter what DAC or amp your source has. None of this matter because your source will digitally encode and transmit the sound and TWS earphones will decode and drive the transducer inside the shell. Here, what important is the codec being used and protocols being supported. And relative to TWS800, built-in amplifier Hifiman implemented. In theory, everything should work the same, but I did find some variations with sources I tested. Here is a run-down.

The following sources have been tested and verified to be able to control remotely the playback (Plays/Pause/Skip) and the volume (raise up/down). Plus, they all yielded a similar sound with a wide soundstage and relatively transparent detailed tonality while paired up using AAC codec (the highest supported by TWS800):
  • Samsung Galaxy S9
  • Hiby R8
  • Hiby R3 Pro
  • Cayin N6ii
  • Cayin N3 Pro
  • A&K SP2000 SS
  • A&K SR25
  • Shanling M0
The sources below don’t support AAC (but do support aptX and LDAC), so I was only able to pair up using SBC codec. In each of these pair ups, I was still able to hear a wide soundstage, but the sound was a little less transparent, even a little warmer, but still relatively detailed. Playback and volume were supported and worked without a problem as well.
  • Sony WM1Z
  • Lotoo LPGT
  • Lotoo PAW6k
  • Hidizs AP80 Pro
One surprise was iBasso DAPs, MAX and DX160, both paired up using AAC codec with MAX having wide soundstage and transparent detailed sound while DX160 having a narrower soundstage and warmer sound. The actual surprise was me being able to control volume remotely, but I couldn’t control their Play/Pause/Skip functionality, like that protocol wasn’t even supported.

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Conclusion.

I’m not going to pretend to be TWS expert, but I have tested a handful of true wireless stereo earphones and found manufacturers trying too hard to appeal more to consumer crowd by either pushing a bloated bass, or having a v-shaped tuning with enhanced bass and treble, and not paying as much attention to tonality balance or overall resolution. Some manufacturers “enhance” their TWS releases with higher end drivers, but they are driving it directly from Bluetooth chipset, not using amplifier, thus limiting audio tuning capability.

What impressed me with TWS800 is that Hifiman put in effort to make it look and sound like an audiophile quality IEM, not another consumer TWS to use while exercising or binge-watching shows on your phone. This TWS has a balanced signature with a good level of natural clarity and smooth retrieval of details without too much coloring. For its asking price (MSRP $299) it is a rather good sounding IEM to begin with, and TWS is just a cherry on top.
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HiFiMan TWS 800 Truly Wireless Earbuds - has True Wireless come of age?
Pros: Sound - much improved from TWS 600
Fit - shape looks bulky and heavy - but, even with my flat feet, they stay in!
Looks - one word - bling
Convenience - yes, TWS are extremely portable
Cons: Bass light - needs foam tip, but none included
Controls - call me a technophobe, but am struggling with the presses on the shells
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Introduction
HiFiman's TWS 800 have been sent to me as a review sample. I write this to you with my own opinion and nothing more. I have read no other articles on these as is my preference for all things I review. Other than researching the technical information and reading the instructions supplied I come to you with fresh ears, unspoilt by the opinions of others.

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About the TWS 800
This is HiFiMan's 2nd TWS model. Their 1st, the TWS 600, is still on sale, and, if you're lucky, may be at a heavily discounted price from it's debut at $199. The TWS 600, and TWS 800, are based on the drivers in the RE600 and RE800 IEMs. There have been adjustments made to the tuning and (I believe) there may be a sprinkling of some magic dust on the TWS 800 at least. In the official wording this is known as a nano particle coating. TWS stands for truly wireless.No cables are evident, at all, in a TWS design. TWS earbuds have a charging case. The case for the TWS 800 will recharge the 6 times before the case needs recharging. The earbuds are charged by placing them into the left and right cradles.
The retail price of the TWS 800 is $299. It is a bluetooth 5.0 model. The 1st HiFiMan TWS, the 600, it is fair to say, created some controversy. Although it looked snazzy in it's alien egg shaped charging case, and was easy to use, the sound signature was considered to be thin and harsh. EQing naturally hid some of the blemishes; these do have the foundations of a pretty decent driver, but for occasions when that wasn't possible, the people suffered. The shape of the TWS600 meant that I had to readjust them constantly when I took them out for a run. In the end I came up with a solution; I found some old hybrid foam tips and some silicon wings that fitted around the outside edge of the shells. I managed to draw out the good points of the sound signature and kept them in my ears. The sound became vivid even when out running. Bass was still fairly light but with effort, yep, I could hear something happening behind the scenes.
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Myself and a few others complained bitterly about our experiences. HiFiMan listened, inwardly digested, furrowed their brows, and set to work in their R&D department. From the ashes of the TWS 600 came the TWS 800. So what, if anything, has changed? The 800 has an upgraded driver. It is based on the RE800 IEM.
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The TWS 600 is based on the somewhat lesser, but still pretty competent RE600.
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I'm hoping you get my drift here. We have the brain of a $599 IEM inside the 800, but the TWS 600 has a pairing that reflects its price much more accurately. Having found this information out, I hope I too, have whetted your appetite. There is surely more potential for excellence in the TWS 800 before they are plucked from the safety of the cardboard outer.
The TWS 800 is not a plastic affair like the TWS 600. It's metal construction adds to the weight and prestige. HiFiMan state that the materials they've used will reduce distortion and raise the frequency response. The TWS 800 is an altogether more sizable affair than the 600. It has a larger bluetooth module and amp than its predecessor. The size has been cunningly disguised. The shape of the TWS 800 brings a modern look to the HiFiMan in ear range. The TWS 600 had an elegant oval shape. It was not a great fit for my ears. The shape doesn't conform to the contours of the outer ear and so it relied on the eartip having a decent relationship with the ear canal entrance to stay in place. Not so with the TWS 800. The shape of the 800 conforms closely to the concha, or middle part of the ear, the bit where you put the driver shells into.
The tuning of the 800 truly wireless has been done more sympathetically. There is now a less analytical feel to the sound signature compared to the younger brother. Technically everything is better inside; so although we have here a more fun and less edgy sounding earbud, we still have some finesse as would be expected with a driver that can dig out more detail.
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Build quality,accessories & cosmetic appeal
The TWS 800 construction has been well thought through. The TWS 600 needs the right earbud to be switched on after it comes out of the charging case in order for it to pair with the left. Otherwise you just get sound from the 1 earbud. With the 800, as soon as you take the buds from the case, they pair with each other and with your phone. so far, that is 100% take it to the bank reliable for me. The case has a deeper recess than the alien egg case (which I love the look of) that comes with the 600. The charging pins will align themselves more readily and reliably with the TWS 800, even with larger ear tips on.
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This is a picture showing the case and the buds in place and being charged. The blue status indicates the left bud is charged; the right bud is being temporarily recharged. In the centre and at the back of the case and harder to spot in the photo, are a series of orange dots. They indicate the charge left in the case. 4 dots is full and 1 dot is 25% charge left.
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As is usual with the minimalism of the TWS tech, there are no buttons to be seen anywhere on the TWS 800. The operation of them is via a series of taps. 1 tap, the most common thing you'll be using, is play\pause and answer\end any phone calls you recieve. The more intricate stuff; 2 on the left for lower volume 2 on the right for more, 3 on the left for last track 3 on the right for next track; suffice it to say, on the run I find it a struggle. On the TWS 600 I was able to do this whilst I was out running. Who knows? It's probably just me. The taps do work; all I'm saying is, more often than not, the 800 thinks I want to pause my music.
As for the build quality, mine work fine, they're made with no issues that I can see. The bit that sits in the concha of the ear, the main bit, has the feel of a rubberised plastic with a bit of grip to it. I applaud that, because it's gonna keep these big things in and there's no metal to burn you when it's going in there on hot summer days, which will hopefully be back before we know it.
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The box opened. Leaving aside the inner white and outer black felt at the back of the picture, we have the case, the warranty card, a bag of tips, a USB C charging cable and an instruction leaflet. I have forgotten to include the black felt bag for the case in this picture. The case is very shiny, and will need the bag if you take it with you, because it will scratch easily.
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These are the tips supplied. The best fit I got was with the 4th set going from left to right, interestingly exactly the ones I use for the RE2000 Silver IEMs from HiFiMan. In use, if they were pushed too far into the ear canal I'd get a flex noise from them. They could be reinserted with less depth and would still stay in, much to my surprise. The tips supplied didn't give the impression of much bass at all. I had a rummage around and found that a set of Comply Foam Tips gave a decent amount of bass and were much more snug in my ear canal. The seal was such that outside noise was attenuated to near inaudible when on the streets. When using the treadmill I could enjoy classical music without being overly put off by either my flat feet or my breathing. With the tips supplied I found it hard to concentrate on quieter pieces of music.
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The look of the TWS 800 is all about bling. It is shiny. Oh yes. There are curves where flatness could have been used. The case is a shining example of that. The smooth flatness is there to accentuate the look of the earbuds and it also serves to hide some of the fatness of the driver housing underneath. I am a fan of the aesthetics. Many of the portable HiFiMan products are a bit dated in their looks, but the TWS 800 are more in tune with what's happening now. As a caveat this is shiny enough that it is prone to scratches, don't drop them! The TWS 600 has that advantage. Yes, they have a plastic construction, but the case and shells on them are scratch resistant.

Sound quality
The shortcomings of the sq on the TWS 600 have been largely taken care of, thanks to the better drivers, amp, bluetooth module and housing. The lack of harshness and overall poise in the sound signature of the TWS 800 made me realise just how serious HiFiMan are in this new market sector. I can state that there is a definite hifi quality to these. The codecs that the TWS sector can accommodate are still lossy, SRC and AAC rather than APTx and LDAC, but in practice I didn't feel like I was hearing much less. When there were occasions that I was just sat down quietly listening to the TWS 800 during the course of the past 3 weeks I felt they could hold their own with their wired cousins, or at least not be trailing a long way behind them. We are not talking like for like between these and a set of wired $299 IEM's. If your interest is value for money above all else, then there are many more better sounding options out there. But take them out on a run, or take them to the gym, then you begin to realise what a necessary luxury the TWS really is.
The bass is lacking with the tips supplied. It is a shortcoming of the potential of the TWS 800, and I achieved a decent, tight bass response by adding some Comply Foams. With a reputation for a boosted bass signature and a dip in the upper frequency range. The mids and highs were none the worse off for this coupling but my ears were thankful for a touch of extra warmth.

Conclusion

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The TWS 800 needed to be different from their earlier cousin, the TWS 600, to succeed. so have they managed it? To a great extent, they have. The things look better, sound better and operate with more efficiency and reliability. The case can get scratched more easily than plastic. The bass is too light without foamies and the tapping is difficult to get the hang of, when you're on a run at least. This is an altogether different kettle of fish from the 600. It sounds much smoother and classier, and can hold its own with wired models, not £ for £, but it sounds like something a headfier would be satisfied with, particularly on the move. Once you're out running on the open road the stakes are raised even higher; this is a decent sounding TWS that has eliminated any cable noise and has a great deal of isolation. It may even become an excuse to get out there for a walk, a run, a trip to the gym. If it does that, then your money has been well spent indeed.
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