Pros - •Fit- comfortable, and lightweight •Nice anti tangle cable •Great price •Great company •Plenty of ear tips included
Cons - •Some distortion when you crank it up (especially with an amp) •Female vocalists can sound a bit harsh at times- very high notes!
I am always on the search for great in-ear headphones, however I always seem to find the same problem, because they are in ear, they tend to have very small drivers, meaning there is never much bass, and in most cases the highs are also messed up in an effort to get more bass!
So I am always on the lookout for in-ear headphones that have good bass, yet have a nice flat frequency (meaning that the high’s and mid’s should also sound great)- a balanced sound.
I find at the moment, there are a lot of new audio companies rolling out, one of these companies that suddenly caught my attention was HiSound, they are a group of audiophiles, who are passionate about sound. Although they are not a very new company, it is a company that has only recently been heard, since a flood of other reviews were announced!
The POPO’s in-particular caught my eye, because of it pleasing design, and the claims that the company says made me want to see if they were telling the truth. I knew if they were, they would be a great pair of earphones…!
Now let’s get on with the review, I am going to talk about these earphones in different stages, so that if there is a type of feature that you like best from a pair of earphones, it will be easy to pick out weather these are good earphones for you!
The first time I saw the POPO earphones I was very impressed by the packaging, the box reminds me of apple iPod boxes, they go for a more simplistic design for the box on these earphones, however, you will notice that with almost all of HiSound’s range of audio equipment, the packaging is simply excellent!
Also included in the packaging is a ton of silicone ear-tips, so you should be sure to find a good fit from these earphones!
Design and Build quality:
The POPO’s, are, in a word, gorgeous. Made out of a mix of African Rosewood and plastic, with a beautiful red cable that doesn’t tangle and keeps a good constitution, these are a handsome pair of IEMs. They are very light, being made of wood and plastic, and sit in your ears easily depending on the tip you use. I can say with great confidence that these are one of the most beautiful earphones on the market to date. Although all things considered, the Popo looks marvellous and is one of the more attractive IEMs I’ve seen, up there with the JVC FX700 and the Dunu Hephaes. The beautiful cable and the wooden cups really do wonders. You will just love that Rosewood. The LCD2 is made of Caribbean Rosewood, this African counterpart is no less classy.
The POPO’s fit really well, and because of its lightness, it tends to stay in place. With the huge assortment of tips, you’re almost guaranteed to find something that fits in your ear. If not, you can juxtapose the tips with any of the “large-canal” tips you may have, such as the ones found on the Monster Turbines, the old Shure e2c series, the Dunu branch of IEMs, Ultimate Ears, and a lot of other brands.
I have used these earphones for a while now, and they have always felt as if they are made to a great standard, and do not feel like they would ever break. This is down to the high quality materials that these earphones are made out of, and it is another great reason to buy these earphones!- They will certainly last!
So obviously, the most important aspect of a pair of earphones (in my mind), is the sound, so do they disappoint?- In a single word, NO, they do not disappoint!
If you read the start of this review, you will notice that I said that I like earphones to have a nice flat (or balanced) frequency, these earphones do exactly that, they have a nice flat frequency, what sounds great about a pair of earphones like this, is that the high’s are not piercing, yet the bass is still nice (punchy, yet clear). The mid’s themselves were pretty good, although there is a bit of coloration there in the lower mid’s where the bass bleeds in a bit. That said, vocals do come out quite impressively and fully. Because the mid’s are just forward enough, you do get the sensation that the singer is singing about five feet in front of you. Because of the rich bass, instruments like guitars and most drums have a rich texture that is very satisfying. Of course, electronic beats and other instruments like bass drums that set the beat are very, very good on the POPO’s. On the other hand, jazz mainstays like saxophones and trumpets seem to lack a bit of air. The only slight problem that I have had with these earphones (and it occurs with most earphones- so it isn’t a deal breaker), is extremely high female vocalists, can at some points sound a tad harsh, and it seems to fade out the bass, but it is just something to note!
I Have really enjoyed listening to these headphones, they are, I have to admit one of the best in-ear headphones, and that is great coming from me, because I usually hate in-ear earphones (mainly because of the small drivers- I prefer the classic apple style earphones, because of the bigger driver they tend to deliver a bigger clearer sound)- however, these earphones have changed my mind completely about the in-ear type, as I keep saying, when I look for some audio equipment, I always try and look for some that have a balanced frequency, so this way the high’s, low’s and mid’s should all be relatively good, and these earphones have showed me that in-ear headphones can do this. They are great is you are a basshead, but also, if you are an audiophile on a budget, and you want some earphones that look great but don’t break the bank, then these are perfect for you!
· Great looks
· Balanced frequency, with excellent bass
· Fit- comfortable, and lightweight
· Nice anti tangle cable
· Great price
· Great company (living up to what they had claimed on their website)
· Plenty of ear tips included
· Some distortion when you crank it up (especially with an amp)
· Female vocalists can sound a bit harsh at times (although it has to be very high noted for this to happen!)
And that is it!
As you can see there really aren’t many cons, and the cons that are there are only small, these aren’t the best earphones on the market by any margin, however for a pair to be a lot better that this you are talking up to 10x the amount of these- so they are great for the price, and great overall!
If you have any questions or queries about this product or any questions about any audio topic, then please, either comment below, or email me- email@example.com
Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this review!
This is my personal thoughts on the POPO IEM from Hisoundaudio.
Now lets get to the review.
Sound Quality : 7/10
Bass Quality : 7/10
Bass Impact : 10/10
Mids : 6/10
Highs : 8/10
Sound Stage : 9/10
Build Quality : 7/10
Leakage : a lot for an IEM
Accesories : 8/10
The most important factor when it comes to equipment like IEM's and headphones.
I am very supprised of the sound quality for its price($89)
. Has a broad sound stage but has a lot of punch to it as well.
You cant go wrong for this price. But I would say that these IEM's are for bassheads. (which I am)
Bass Quality & Impact
The quality and clarity of the bass is not that high, but I can say that it has a lot of impact. Sounds like you have a subwoofer in your ears. So I would say that these are for fun listening rather than detailed listening. I assume the venting is causing this bass to boom but is also lowering that clarity at the same time.
The mids are nothing special because it is more of a bass emphasized IEM. (which goes the same for most bass heavy IEMS) But there is enough clarity and quantity for me.
The highs are preatty decent. Has a decent amount of quality and shines.
Sound stage is preatty broad for an IEM and a IEM in its price range. Its probably because it is vented on the bottom of the IEM.
Not sure how much these IEM will hold up because I have only used it for a few weeks, but it seems to be ok so far. But since it is lite, I have a feeling that it may break if you use it too roughly.
This is an important factor in Japan. Because people tend to start fights if your sound is leaking on the train or some sort of local transportation. This is what sucks about Japan, so I don't like IEMS that leak a lot, and the POPO IEMs tend to leak because it is vented. Due to the vent, the isolation is not that good as well, even with Comply foam tips
It comes with a lot of eartips which is preatty standard for any IEM now. So Its OK. It also comes with a shirt clip. But it would of been great if they included a case. It says "option" on the package so you might be able to get one if you ask for it.
Conclusion & discount notice
These IEMs are great for its price which is $89. If your a bass head and like to have an IEM with a broad soundstage. this is for you.
Hisoundaudio is famous for their DAP range especially the now discontinued Rocoo A and Rocoo AB and also some of their earphone range such as PAA 1. Lately, they have been coming out with lots of IEM to cater the market needs and the Hisoundaudio PoPo that is reviewed here is one of their latest IEM that uses woods instead of traditional metal or plastic to give a more natural presentation. Specs: Type: Dynamic, In-Ear Size of driver: 9mm Impedance: 16 Ohm Sensitivity: 110db Maximum SPL (Sound pressure level): 127db(1khz, 1 Vrms) Frequency response: 16-23khz Earphone jack: 3.5mm Cable length: 126cm Designs The red cable on PoPo is really attractive and it does looks like you are wearing a beats from afar. For those who are looking into fashion as well, I think you should invest in PoPo as I believe they will be better sounding than the beats. (Never try one before)
Thicker Cable and Better Strain Relieve
The cable is also thicker and less microphonic than my Woody 2. The strain relieve also seems to be better than my woody 2 as well. The cable is less prone to tangle due to the thicker size and the material used in it. You can basically put it into your pocket and unwrap it in a shorter amount of time as compared to Crossroads Woody 2 and other IEM that are prone to tangle.
The PoPo is made of African Rosewood while the Crossroads Woody 2 does not states the material used. The housing is not only smaller in size but also has a ported vent to help improve the bass. However, the isolation is still very good and almost as good as my Woody 2 with comply foam. This means the Hisoundaudio PoPo IEM is a better IEM for outdoor use while the woody 2 is only meant for use at home or office settings. Sound Quality The moment that you put it in, bass is the first thing that you will noticed. They have the thunderous bass punch and earth shattering vibration which many IEM and even headphones lacks of. You are not only getting punch but enough vibration to make the bass feeling complete. While the impacts is fixed, the low-end rumble will change from linear bass response to EQ either up or down on the sub bass part with different DAC and Amp. On my system, I’m getting a linear bass response most of the time. The decay on the bass note is quite long as well but this might be a nature of the woods as my Woody 2 also does has this long decay. On some songs it does overpower a bit but on some others songs the decays is kind of addicting such as when you are playing an acoustic tune where the bass is not as strong. The mids is laidback and recessed or veiled or whatever terms you may want to use. They are hidden by the bass especially in the mids to lower mids section. This makes the mids not only darker but also lost clarity in those areas. This is the part which I hope will improve after few months of burn in and if they don’t change then the manufacturer should try to make improvement in here. I’m not sure is it because of the tuning or is it because they use woods in the designs. The highs is really smooth. Not yet reaches the level of liquid smooth mids on the Crossroads HR1 but it is smoother than my other headphones and also smoother than another woody headphone, the Crossroads Woody 2. They will still bring out the sharp tone on the songs if they do have it. But most of the time they don’t . The treble is also darker sounding than even my JH16PRO. In short, the treble is smooth and dark sounding. The soundstage is spacious with sufficient amount of width and height. They are not extremely wide but they do share the same kind of soundstage as a full size headphone where it is rounded instead of panning to the left and right. This helps filled out the ambience in a hall when listening to live songs. However it is like the Crossroads Woody 2 where the depth does suffer and the separation is not as clean. Using the triple flange could help improve the depth by a small margin if you do care about the depth. I’m not sure how many people is successful in getting it to work on Rock and Pop song as it was originally intended to but I still can’t get it to works on those genre. On the other hand I find it to have enough low bass, bass punch, treble, speed and attack to handle the dubstep and electronica in which many of my headphones failed to. While my JH16PRO handles well in terms of speed and just about every part but they don’t feel like a match because of the lacks of proper attacks. On the other hand, DT880 has attacks and speeds but it takes a brighter tone than the warmer PoPo. Both PoPo and DT880 handles nicely for those genre but on a different tone while others have failed. Choices of Tips Choosing the right tips is also very important in this IEM. You are given a range of single, double and triple flange with three pair of size each for small, medium and large which adds up to 9 pairs of tips and an extra medium size single flange. That is quite good since you are not only able to find the one that fits you the most, you might even be able tune the sounds if all the types of flanges fits your ears. However, choose them wisely as each tips will give different sound under different system as well. On the single flange, I’m hearing stronger bass impact and treble while the triple flange will give cleaner bass and treble with improvement depth as well. I think most likely audiophile will prefer the triple flange instead of the single because it brings a cleaner sound and the improvement in depth over the single flange. Amplification When it comes to amplification it is very straight forward. You don’t even need to spend a whole load of money on high end amplifier to power this IEM. I can even power it with a Fiio E5 with canare L4E6S cable to great authority. What is important is the tuning of the amplifier and DAC that are towards the faster side with good amount of mids and treble to help boost its weakness. Problems I think the PoPo has a very noticeable problem here. I did read quite a lot of reviewer are hearing clarity in here. But the problem is that my ears doesn’t share the same impression as others have heard. I have even alternating between different DAP, DAC and Amp. On certain songs the clarity is lost and covered up by the heavy bass but on certain songs such as electronica and dubstep and the Chinese classical that I tried does have lots of clarity. Testing on random songs through my iPod also found some does delivers great clarity while some songs lose clarity. I believe this is because of the recessed mids which causes the lacks of clarity in the mids to lower mids registry while songs that have clarity in the upper mids and highs will show up clearly. So what you get is a treble boosted clarity. Comparison In a Nutshell POPO VS Crossroads Woody 2 POPO Stronger impact and weightier bass Smoother highs but darker sounding Faster and more suited for dubstep, electronica, cello, double bass and other instrument focused on lower ends frequencies and also Chinese classical songs. (I wonder is it because they are from a Chinese company) Woody 2 Refine and more natural bass Clearer highs and mids Slower but more natural, suited for wind, brass, woods instruments, audiophile title, female vocals, Jazz. POPO VS DT880 Premium 250ohm POPO Sufficient speed to handle electronica and dubstep but with more emphasis on lower tone with warmer tone. More subwoofer like sound. DT880 Faster than popo in electronica and dubstep but with more emphasis on treble to give better clarity and details. More refine and smoother. POPO and Crossroads Woody 2 VS Just about everything else Woody!!!!! Yes both sounded more wood like than other plastic material used on most headphones. POPO and Crossroads Woody 2 VS JH16PRO Woody again. Better physical feeling on low ends. (More dynamic) Other than that JH16PRO smokes them in just about every corner. Most of the equipment I included here is not a fair fight for the PoPo but I just included them to let you get a general understanding of how it sounded against other headphones. Do I recommend them? The earth shattering bass does a great job in electronica and dubstep and some random songs. (Unrelated to genre but how they are EQ) But it does comes with a cost in which they are not as technically proficient as what the audiophile will seeks. I’m still pretty sure that this kind of tuning still will have their own markets. The Aiaiai TMA1 that cost around US$ 275 still have loves in the audiophile community even when they have the same problem as PoPo. Anyway my advice is that don’t always falls prey for audiophile sounds as most of them are unable to convey the fun in the music the way the mainstream or lower ends are able to provide. For street price of just around 60-70, you should give it a try especially when you are a die hard fans of electronica and dubstep or even some instrumental songs. Note: Choosing a less warmer DAC and Amp for a brighter and more solid state sound will match better in here and at the same time helps bring out a cleaner sound. Most of my reviews are based on the single flange rather than the triple flange so it may not sound the same as those wearing different tips. This review is only based on one week of burn-in so it may not be the same as the final outcome. My Crossroads Woody 2 and JH16PRO also takes a few month of burn-in for the bass to calm down. After one week of use, the mids does clear up a little but still retains the warm and dark sound signature that I heard from the start. Price: US$89 Source: Govibe DAC, Hifiman HM-602, iPod Classic Amplifier: JdsLabs cMoyBB, SPL Auditor, Fiio E5 Headphones: Superlux HD668B, Superlux HD681, JH16PRO, DT880, Shure SE535, Crossroads Woody 2, Crossroads HR1 Site URL: http://www.geeksreviews.net/
Pros - good formfactor, comfortable, lots of tips to ensure a fit, very well built
Cons - will shine with only certain types of music, no pouch, no chin slide adjuster
Disclaimer Those of us sitting at the back of the bus who love our music reserve the right to practice a healthy dose of skepticism involving audio gear as we ride along the long winding road that is life. Until said gear has passed our personal expectations thus meriting the mantra of GOOD GEAR any and all reviewers/reviews will be taken with a grain of salt. As natural born cynics we also expect those around us to practice a healthy level of free thought and approach our reviews with a healthy dose of skepticism. In the event there's violent disagreement concerning gear reviewed then please grab said gear throw it out the bus window grab your own much loved gear and by all means please join us fellow cynics at the back of the bus. Please be sure said gear being thrown out the window isn't mine.
Before I begin this review I would like to make it perfectly clear that although I have IEM's that can be classed as bassy I'm NOT a basshead and the PoPo is far from my sound signature of choice. The PoPo is your standard colored warm sounding IEM with an overly emphasized low end and roll off in it's highs. Note presentation is thick and note decay is rather slow. The end result the general sound signature is laid back and non fatiguing. It's a pleasant enough sound but because of how it's been tuned this little IEM for me is quite limited in what type of music it shines with. The PoPo is the type of IEM that lives and breaths souley in basshead territory. To my ears although it does slam pretty good and could be called a bass cannon I prefer to call it a rumble monster, more on that in a bit.
Type: Dynamic, In-Ear
Size of driver: 9mm
Impedance: 16 Ohm
Maximum SPL (Sound pressure level): 127db(1khz, 1 Vrms)
Frequency response: 20-21khz
Earphone jack: 3.5mm
Cable length: 126cm
Accessories Formfactor and Comfort
The PoPo comes packaged in a small minimalist box, very Apple like I may add. Inside you get the PoPo, a shirt clip, a large assortment of tips, 3 sets of different tips in (S,M,L) of regular ear tips bi-flange tips, and triple-flange tips, and NO pouch. The plethora of extra tips ensuring a proper ear fit for the vast majority of users is a very nice touch by HiSound but the lack of a cheap one dollar poach is a bad omission for an IEM in this price range.
Form factor wise this little IEM is quite well put together. The cables are sturdy and non microphonic and the strain reliefs seem quite solid. The wood housing made of African Rosewood is quite nice and makes the IEM look quite beautiful. The PoPo plug is a 3.5 mm straight plug which I'm really not fond of, I prefer a 90 degree angle plug on an IEM, but that's just me and it's far from a deal breaker. One thing that I really didn't like about the PoPo formfactor was the omission of a neck slide adjuster on the IEM. A neck slide adjuster in this IEM's price range should be a no brainer and I was rather surprised at this omission.
Comfort and fit wise these IEM's are up there amongst my other stable of easy pop in forget about them and go IEM's. The large selection of tips guarantees a good fit for the wide majority of users out there. Isolation, although vented they isolate well enough that you'll have to keep your eyes open or wind up under a car. My Sony MDR EX600 is vented and I'm rather impressed how much better the vented PoPo can isolate out noise next to my EX600. Overall I'd have to say the PoPo is a well built comfortable IEM and HiSound did an acceptably good job with it. If they had included a poach and a neck slide adjuster with the PoPo I would have said an excellent job and not just a good job.
Usually when I review an IEM I only quickly touch on soundstage near the end of a review but with the PoPo I have to make an exception because soundstage for this 60 to 70 dollar IEM is done exceptionally well. It's not the most expansive or detailed soundstage I've ever heard but it still easily dwarfs the soundstages of other similarly priced IEM's. Although the PoPo is thick lush bass heavy sound signature overall instrument positioning is excellent and overall imaging is also excellent. Left right front and back instrument separation and positioning is very very good on this IEM. The result sound layering becomes very good and I'm hearing a very good 3D like presentation that I would class as above par for this tier of IEM. I have to say it's very nicely done and I'm impressed with the PoPo's soundstage capabilities.
The highs on the PoPo aren't to bad for this tier of IEM. They're generally smooth and non fatiguing and I'm noticing some roll off in the upper treble region. There is a bit of sparkle up top I'm glad to say and it can smash and crash when the music demands it. It's a pretty traditional approach as far as highs are concerned for a bass head IEM with deep bass extension and it's what I expected from this tier of IEM. Detail retrieval is generally good although not great. In all fairness to Hisound the PoPo wasn't created for the neutral detail obsessed audiophile market. It was created for the young fun loving mainstream pop rock and electronica market.
In a nutshell the PoPo mids are rather unassuming. They don't necessarily do anything wrong per say but they don't do anything to really make them stand out either. Guitars on the PoPo come across as thick and crunchy and detail retrieval can sound a little smeared at times due to it's warm bass dominant tuning. Vocal presentation is presented slightly forward and sound rather nice and I'm especially liking how female vocals are presented. Upper mid range to lower high range transition seems good and sibilance control is very good. Lower mid to upper low frequency transition though I'm not to fond of and I'm noticing some heavy leaching of bass into the PoPo's lower mids. End result part of the mids feel veiled and for a lack of a better word masked.
What makes the PoPo stand out amongst other Bassy IEM's is the incredible amount of mid/sub bass which really reaches down deep. I've never heard an IEM with so much rumble before in my life. My Turbines, X10 and S4 don't even come close to the amount of rumble the PoPo can generate. You listen to a bass centric song with deep bass on the PoPo and it feels like the bass completely envelopes the listener. The only way I can describe the PoPo bass is it's an incredibly deep shaking enveloping rumble monster. Although interesting and rather fun at times there's way to much of it and because of this the PoPo for me becomes quite limited in the kind of music it can play. I'll say it, on a lot of my electronica, trance, and some pop rock the PoPo's overly enveloping bass can be fun but my God it's not something I'd want all the time and I definitely don't want it with my rock metal or jazz.
I'll be straight up and honest about it, as stated at the beginning of this review the PoPo is not my kind of sound signature. This little IEM is a bassheads delight come true though and for them it'll work very well. For what it brings to the table sonically it's a well priced IEM. My only point of contention with it formfactor wise is for it's pricing it should have a neck slide adjuster on it's Y split or at the very least a cheap pouch. For the basshead looking for a good entry level IEM the PoPo I would say is worth looking into. For everyone else though I can only say move along folks there's nothing to see here.
My review sample of the Hisoundaudio POP was provided free by Hisoundaudio but I'll try to do an unbiased summary of my thoughts.
The wood used appears to be of high quality. The fire-engine red cable is reasonably thick and stiff and is rather eye-catching. The Y-split could have included a slider for convenience. Personally, I would have preferred a L-shaped jack instead of the straight jack. A plus point is that the cable does not tangle easily. The negative would be the microphonics I've experienced when walking around with it. However, since it is not a sports headphone and no one would likely be using it for that, it should not be too big of an issue.
The number of tips included is commendable, with single, double and tripe flange tips of different sizes. I used the regular small-sized silicone tips as double or triple flange tips do not fit in my ears comfortably, a problem I have with the Monster brand tips as well. The POP sits comfortably in my ears for hours. A shirt-clip is also included.
A carrying case was not included. I feel that there should be one even if it meant a slightly higher price as I have accidentally damaged the audio jack by just carrying it around in my bag. The sound sometimes cut out as I flex the part of the cable connecting to the audio jack.
Right out of the box, at first listen, the bass certainly leaves an impression. The depth and quantity of the bass is better than most of the IEMs I've listened to. The treble sounded recessed.
Jack Fu of Hisoundaudio recommended a burn-in of 100 hours. Following burn-in of about 50 hours, I've noticed that the treble opened up. My following review is based on my listening impression after burn-in of 100 hours.
Soundstage is decent, not closed-in and not very open, of an average level.
The bass is definitely the highlight of the POP. The bass reminds me of my Monster Miles Davis Tribute. The quantity and impact of the bass makes it a favourite on bass dominant music.
In noisy environments such as on a bus or train in Singapore, the excessive bass quantity is balanced out by the noise that leaks through despite the decent isolation by the earphone, which tends to be of low frequency. This works as an advantage for the POP in my point of view.
The mids are good. It does not particularly stand out but it is not recessed either. The vocals are not of a very intimate quality but not distant. It sounds more of a mid-distance away.
The treble would be the weakest quality of the POP. It sounds a little rolled off and recessed. It makes certain music with more treble sound dull. The dynamic feel of some instruments is lost.
The Hisoundaudio POP is a good choice for those who like bass and prefer a warmer sound. I find it enjoyable to listen to especially for rock.
Cons - Bass can be a bit excessive and treble is lacking detail and refinement.
Hello ladies and gents; I'll be doing a brief review on the Popos (recently renamed POP to my knowledge). First off I'd like to thank Jack from Hisound for giving me an opportunity to do a review on his product. So far its been a blast doing business with Hisound and I look forward to trying out new and improved offerings in the future.
Moving onto the prize (POP).
What can I say about the Popo? For $60.00 you do get a great value for your money. The amount of bass is pretty surprising and I could see the bass heads enjoying these IEMs. While on certain tracks it can be a bit excessive, it's in no way a deal breaker for me. The more you pump up the volume the more the bass quantity increases. At a reasonable volume its a non-issue. The POP's bass is focused on sub bass with a reasonable amount of mid bass. The bass reaches pretty low and combined with the wood housing; you get a nice warm sound. I find these IEMs quite non-fatiguing and easy to listen to.
The mid-range is actually pretty good. Its clear and upfront. Not necessarily the showcase of this IEM but not its weakness either. The vocal presentation in my case is close to the center but slightly off to the left.
The treble IMO is a weak-point here. It lacks detail and is a bit dull. I won't say its horrible but it would be the weak point of the three frequencies. But on a plus note the treble is non-fatiguing and tolerable. No sibilance issues on my end. The sparkle is there buts it's subtle and smoothed over. It doesn't slap you in the face.
The sound stage isn't particularly large but not small either. I'd say its medium sized if you get my meaning.
You get an intimate presentation without feeling invaded. The overall presentation is on the fun side so these are in no way boring IEMs.
The fit on these is excellent IMO. I don't feel the need to constantly reposition the IEMs once they are inserted and they are very comfortable to wear for long music sessions. One not so great thing though is the micro-phonics. Its quite noticeable on these and there is no cable adjuster to fasten the cable under your chin to reduce (or even eliminate) micro-phonics.
Isolation is another plus. Its not custom IEM isolation but still very good. When music is playing even at a reasonable level, I can't hear outside noises; unless is ridiculously loud noises that is.
With an MSRP of $60.00 I am very happy with the build quality on the POPs. The Driver housing is made of Rose Wood. The driver opening appears to have some sort of wax guard on it which is great for those of you who produce a lot of ear gold .
The cable is quite interesting. Its red color will definitely draw some attention from others. I feel it matches the housing and gives the IEM some character. Most importantly the cable feels sturdy. Not IE8 Kevlar sturdy; but I feel confident that this IEM should last well past the years warranty if you are somewhat responsible with your belongings.
The packaging is rather basic (what do you expect for such a reasonable price?). Within the packaging you get the POP, tips and a warranty card. The tip selection is quite decent as there are several different size tips to choose from. The tips remind me of Sony Hybrids. There is no carrying case other than the case packaging itself.
Sorry folks will edit and add more pictures later. Camera battery died and will need to recharge it
While using the POPs in this review I used my DACport LX paired with my UHA4 amp to drive the POPs listening to FLAC files.
At $60.00 a "pop" the POP is a great value with some serious sub bass. With a nice lush and warm sound from that Rose Wood housing; one can easily be drawn into the POP's sound. The build quality is above average and IMO quite durable. I can easily see bass heads loving these IEMs as well as your average-Joe listener. I'd like to thank everyone for taking the time to read my review and I hope it is in someway helpful to you. I'm quite new to doing reviews and hope to get better at it in the future.
Pros - Looks (stylish), comfort, build quality, price, presentation of sound (for bass-lovers), tip selection, cable strength.
Cons - Tips all silicone, cable quite stiff & slightly microphonic, no chin slider, no storage pouch.
The HiSoundAudio Popo is a dynamic driver IEM - using an African Rosewood housing - with a warm, engaging , fun - but very bassy sound signature. I understand it currently has a retail price point around the 70-90USD mark.
Pre-amble (about me)
I'm a 45 year old music lover. I don't say audiophile - just love my music. Over the last couple of years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current entry/mid-fi set-up. I vary my listening from portable (i-devices + amp) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > coax > NFB-12 > HP). My main headphones at the time of writing are the Sennheiser HD600s, HM5's, a modded set of Alessandro MS1i, SE535 Ltd Ed. and B2 IEMs. I previously owned Beyer DT880, Shure SRH840 and 940 + various other IEMs. I have auditioned quite a few entry and mid-tier cans, but have yet to hear any flagships - other than the Shure 535 (at current time of writing this review). I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety - from classical and opera to grunge and hard-rock. I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk music, classic rock, and alternative rock. I am particularly fond of female vocals. I tend toward cans that are relatively neutral/balanced - with a slight emphasis on the mid-range. I prefer a little warmth in the overall signature. I am neither a bass or treble head. Current amps = NFB12, GoVibe PortaTube, Fiio E11. Previous desktop set-up was a Fiio E7/E9 combo.
Gear used in this review
- iPhone4 / iPod4
- Fiio E11
- PortaTube (with volume attenuator)
Popo Technical Specifications :
Nominal impedance = 16Ω
Transducer = dynamic 9mm
Type = in-ear (canal-phone)
Frequency range = 16 - 23000 Hz
Sensitivity = 110 dB
Maximim SPL = 127db（1khz，1 Vrms）
Cable length = 126cm
Jack plug = 3.5mm (mini)
Packaging and Accessories
The Popo arrived in a hard clear plastic outer case measuring 125 x 75 x 3 cm. The packaging case unfortunately does slightly detract from the actual printed outer cardboard, as it does tend to reflect glare quite badly. As a retail outer though, it does it's job - clearly showing the Popos inside the see through window. Inside is the printed cardboard box - with specifications and information in Chinese and English on the back, and the front having basic description, HiSoundAudio logo and viewing window for the Popos. The cardboard is quite nicely printed in black and red - which also matches the cable and black plastic on the actual Popos - nice touch. Inside the cardboard outer is a plastic mold holding the Popos, a bag with the tips and shirt clip, and a guarantee paper (written entirely in Chinese), and a HiSoundAudio VIP card. Not sure exactly what this does - but it looks quite impressive.
The accessory bag includes a small spring-loaded plastic shirt clip - which works quite well. Also included are 10 silicone sleeves - 3 sets of triple flanges, 3 sets of double flanges, and 4 sets of single flanges - all in different size/shapes.
Two things that I would have liked to see (even if it meant putting the price point up slightly) is a carrying case, and also a couple of sets of foam tips. I've never really been comfortable with silicone 'flexi' tips - I find it hard to get a decent seal & much prefer an expandable foam option.
The Popo body - this looks really sturdy. It consists of a plastic front housing and stem attached to an African Rosewood rear chamber (yes it appears to be real wood). The body from stem to rear housing is approx 2cm long, but only approx 1cm in diameter at it's widest point. They are also extremely light weight. The strain relief appears to be a very solid black plastic (only slightly pliable). There is a small vent hole in the wooden chamber. The stem is approximately 0.5cm in diameter and has an internal filter fitted.
The cable is a very vibrant red, looks very strong, and according to HiSoundAudio - built to last. They state the cable core is made up of a quite thick "high grade 6 ofc core" and that it "can stand a 150kg force, and will never lose it's red colour". So far it has not been prone to tangling - I guess this is due to the stiffness of the cable core. The cable has a hard plastic Y split (black plastic with a flexible strain relief), and terminates to a very slim mini 3.5mm plug (again with black flexi plastic housing). For build quality - I'd have to give the cable pretty high marks.
I do have a couple of issues which if solved could add value to an otherwise excellent build. Firstly - the cable is slightly microphonic. For me - this is usually solved by wearing the IEMs with the cable over-ear (rather than hanging straight down). The problem is that the cable does not like to be molded around your ear - so it does not sit properly initially. This could be fixed by the use of a chin-slider (to pull the cable in) - but sadly there is no chin-slider either. My recommendation to Jack would be to either (or preferably both) include a chin slider in the build, or include detachable ear guides.
In the meantime I have been wearing the Popo with the cables tucked under the arms of my glasses. This also works quite well. Over the last day, the cable has started to sit a little better over my ears - so maybe it is gradually 'learning' my preferred shape. I'd still prefer the guides if they were available.
Comfort / Isolation
Note - I am biased - and prefer foams. I generally do not like silicone tips. However I tried several of the included tips, and eventally settled on the large bi-flanges. Once I got a good seal, they tended to melt away (very comfortable) - and isolation seemed really good. I wouldn't rate them quite as good as my SE535s (rated up to 37dB) - but they are pretty good, and once the music is playing, you're not going to notice much (if any) outside noise.
Mostly I listened to the Popos straight out of my iPod Touch G4 - but also from iPhone4, both DAPS via LOD to E11, and also LOD to PortaTube (using a volume attenuator on the PortaTube because of it's powerful output). In all honesty - they all sounded pretty similar - with cleanest sound being iPhone4 > LOD > PortaTube. Mostly I stuck with the iPod Touch 4 for simplicity though - these are very easy to drive! I've mentioned below some of the music I tested these with - all were 256aac. All are from CD's I've ripped myself (EAC), or HQ flac downloads, which I've then converted to 256aac cbr.
For a self proclaimed 'neutral-head', these are a complete departure from my usual preferred signature. HiSoundAudio describes the intended signature as "The PoPo IEMs have been designed to reproduce Pop and Rock genres as if you were there in the recording studio. They have the ability to create a strong and crisp ambience of any type of music you listen to. Their sound signature is engaging and fun, and you will find yourself getting immersed in the music." Read on for my impressions on individual facets of the signature, and overall impression.
This is probably the most surprising bit - these actually have a reasonable amount of detail - despite the fact that they are unashamedly bassy and have a warm mid-range. They have quite a crisp - but also smooth top-end. Listening to Alison Krauss & U.S. (Dustbowl Children), the banjo picking is quite clear. I also tried some classical (Julia Fischer and the Russian National Orchestra playing Tchaikovsky's Concerto for Violin in D) - and while they do not approach the finesse, separation, or clarity of either my SE535 or B2, they are not dull, and only very slightly muffled.
Again - really surprised. While the staging is not huge (I've personally never heard an overly expansive IEM), these definitely have some width and depth. Often, I felt as though I was in quite a spacious room - especially with live recordings. Most notable for me was Adele (Live at The Royal Albert Hall). There is a real depth in the recording and the Popo copes with it quite admirably. Another is Clapton's "Unplugged" album. There is enough separation to convey space - although as with most IEM's I've tried, perceived listener positioning is still relatively close to the stage.
There seems to be reasonable extension - enough to hear cymbals and high-hats, and the treble that is present is quite clean. To me it is still smooth with an element of crispness - but definitely sits behind both the mid-range and bass.
These are ever so slightly forward with female vocals, slightly further back with male vocals. They are quite engaging (but fun) - to the point that I often found it almost distracting trying to write this review. I'd get lost in the music for a while and forget what I was trying to type. I've always loved a dynamic mid-range, and these definitely have some of that quality. I would describe the mid-range as very smooth and overall warm and slightly dark.
The Popo has a lot more bass than I am used to. Most of it seems to be centered around the mid-bass, which for the most part is punchy and full. Occasionally it does have the ability to overpower and become boomy - but this only seems to be on very bassy tracks. To my ears it extends reasonably low - there is deifnitely a feeling of power when called for. There does seem to be reasonable texture to the bass - and my main cricticism of it (personal view) is that there is just too much for my tastes. It can slightly overshadow the rest of the spectrum at times. I think they were aiming for today's younger consumers with the Popo (pop and rock lovers) - and for their target audience, they've probably nailed it.
Power Requirements / Sensitivity
These operate very well without an amp, and I really can't see too many people wanting to use an amp for included bass-boost features. Again, for probable target audience - straight out of a portable dap - the Popo are going to perform really well.
Comparison with SE535 Ltd Ed
I started to write this - and then realised it's completely unfair. The SE535 Red is a $450+ triple driver, the Popo is a sub $100 single driver. But since I started ...
Popo has a lot more bass quantity - SE535 has less quantity but better control and texture
Both have good mid-range with SE535 being more forward, more detailed and again having better control and separation.
Highs definitely better on the SE535 - especially for overall detail and clarity - but the Popo are still enjoyable, and that says a lot about what HiSoundAudio have achieved.
Soundstage can be both deeper and wider on the Popos - but I find that I personally prefer the initimacy of the SE535
I find the SE535 sound a lot more natural - while the Popo are warmer, more laid back, and defintiely aimed at feet-tapping, head-bopping fun.
Notes On Music Genres
I've tested these with a lot of different types of music over the last few days. Here is just a few notes. This may help some prospective buyers.
Classical - Julia Fischer (Tchaikovsky Violin Concertos) - just a little too laid back to be ultimately enjoyable - didn't match overly well.
Classical - Mozart (Oboe Concerto) - this was a lot better but it also had better pace - quite enjoyable.
Jazz - Diana Krall (The Girl In The Other Room) - double-bass is quite well represented (almost too much), does suit Krall's vocals quite a bit - enjoyable.
Jazz - Charles Mingus (Mingus Ah Um) - this was quite surprising - handled the trumpet with ease, and the double-bass again sounded really excellent. Really relaxing listen. Just missing some of the top end detail and crispness at times.
Classic Rock - Clapton (Unplugged) - did this really well - good back-beat, and everything gelled together well. Sense of space in the recording was really quite enjoyable.
Classic Rock - Little River Band (Greatest Hits) - one of the few albums that the Popos didn't play well with. Sounded quite cavernous at times until a decent bass-beat kicked in - almost like it needed the bass to equalise the bigger soundstage.
Female Pop - Adele (Live at the Royal Albert Hall) - a lot of Adele's music has a really good deep bass back-beat, and the Popo handle this really well. Enjoyable.
Female Pop - Christina Perri (Lovestrong) - again, a fun listen with anything having a nice back-beat. At times a little too warm and dark for me (I'm used to a bit more presence in the mid-range and less bass)
Modern Rock - Alter Bridge (One Day Remains) - bassheads will love these - bass is deep, quite well defined, and really hard hitting. Seems to cope nicely with a change of pace.
Modern Rock - Linkin Park (Meteora) - I personally found the bass a little overpowering, especially the distortion on the guitars coupled with the drums. Again though - I think bassheads will really enjoy this.
Blues - Joe Bonamassa (Live From Nowhere In Particular) - not bad, but I found that the drums overshadowed the guitar in some places - and the guitar should be the forefront of this album (back to the grados for me with this album).
Blues - Beth Hart (Live at Paradiso) - thoroughly enjoyable. Listened to the whole album .... twice. Combination of bass, soundstage, and Beth's slightly brighter vocals was really good.
Trip Hop - Little Dragon (Ritual Union) - this was what the Popos were designed for I think. Really good. Great bass, and still very clear vocals.
Dubstep - Salmonella Dub (Live In Concert With The NZSO) - really enjoyed this one. It's superbly mastered, and the Popos do a great job handling the bass in conjunction wioth the symphony orchestra in the background.
Rap - Eminem (Curtain Call) - can get boomy at times, but again I think this is what the Popo were made for. Rappers will enjoy the beat. Definitely thumping.
Alternative Rock - Porcupine Tree (In Absentia) - another album that sounded a little hollow and cavernous until the drums kicked in. Didn't really suit this music. Mid-range sounded distant.
I have to admit that I wasn't sure how I would like these when I heard the first reviews describe the level of bass that the Popo has - but HiSoundAudio has balanced this out a little with a nice mid-range, and enough sparkle to make the whole package enjoyable. For the target audience (more modern pop, rock, dnb lovers), I think these will be a big hit - especially considering their price. They are definitely fun, but unfortunately the abundance of bass would detract from long term listening for me. I found that if I was only listening to the Popos, the more I had them on, the more used to the signature I became, and the higher the enjoyment. As soon as I switched to my 535's though, I realised what I had been missing (better clarity / detail / balance).
After listening to these, I will be following HiSoundAudio's progress closely. If they can apply the same build quality and technical ability of the Popo to a slightly different audience (more neutral signature), it could be another very enjoyable experience. I will definitely have to listen to one of their DAPs sometime in the future - these guys know what audio is about.
My take on the Popos - definitely recommended for bass lovers, and anyone who likes a strong bass-line beat. Very good quality for the price. I personally will stick with my SE535 (it suits my sonic preference) - but acknowledge the Popo as an extremely good value (albeit heavily coloured) fun IEM.
Things I'd recommend HiSoundAudio to change : include a carry case, chin slider, and look at possibility of at least one set of foam tips.
Cons - Packaging/lack of accessories, cable microphonics, highs not terribly impressive
First-off, I'd like to extend a big thank-you to Hisoundaudio for the review sample. It's not often that you find a company gracious enough to let you not only sample something, but actually keep it. And I'll start off by saying that I'm thrilled they let me keep it
Onto the POPO IEM. A bit of a strange name, granted, but this is a bit of a unique product. I'll step through the packaging/accessories, then talk design, fit, and build, then move onto sound.
NOTE: Included at the end is a TL;DR section for those of you who don't feel like reading the whole thing.
PACKAGING/ACCESSORIES: This is definitely where you see the fact that you only pay $60 for these. The packaging is pretty standard and does little more than offer basic protection for the IEMs during transit. The transparent plastic case is held together by stickers on each end, and the cardboard insert interior has a cheap feel to it.
Accessories are lacking as well. The biggest shortcoming here is the lack of case; for those that don't like to wind their headphones around their DAP, lack of case can be a tad irritating. Fortunately, I used the fact that 2 cases come with Monster's Turbine series to employ one of these cases as a case for the POPOs, so no big deal here. What is included is a selection of eartips to play around with on the POPO; I personally found that the stock single flange that are initially attached fit me incredibly well, however. A few other biflange and various sized tips are almost sure to accommodate any user.
DESIGN, BUILD, AND FIT: It only takes a second of looking at the POPO to appreciate the design. The Hisoundaudio site indicates that the shell is made of African rosewood (ooh!), a feature that you're unlikely to find elsewhere in the $60 range. The red cable may be too flashy for some, but I find that it matches the rosewood well (it even provided me with an opportunity to explain to a friend that the IEMs I were wearing were not in fact Beats, but rather a far superior and sleeker product ).
The build quality is generally high, but some elements seem a tad lacking. The cable feels pretty flimsy and cheap, and has medium-high microphonics (this is minimized by the shirt clip or wearing over-ear, however). The first time or two that I used the plug it was cutting out if I rotated it for some reason (no idea why this went away. Maybe it was just my Clip+ being weird.) There isn't a slider/cable management system included, which could be irritating to those who want to run with it or be particularly active, but I haven't found this inconvenient. Driver flex is pretty unavoidable with these, which is a bit of a let-down, but I don’t think it’s affecting the sound quality too long (it only makes me worry about the long-run). The IEMs themselves are very light, but don't feel particularly fragile, which bestows some confidence.
Fit is perfect, and provides great isolation. The only IEM I've used that isolates better is the MTPG, and that's probably just because of the heavier, metal bodies. In either case, external noise isn't really a problem with these, and they have yet to fall out of my ears (but I generally can get a good fit with almost any IEM, the TF10 being the only tricky case I've encountered thus far).
But that's enough about the surface stuff. Let's hear what my ears have to say, eh?
SOUND: Allow me to quickly predicate this section with a few notes: I am a basshead. My primary genre is electronica, including trance, happy hardcore, hardstyle, dubstep, etc, but I do occasionally work in a variety of other genres ranging from classical to hip hop, hard rock, or acoustic. In either case, I have a strong preference for quality bass response.
Let's go from the bottom up here. We'll start with the bass. In two words: oh man. Is this really a $60 IEM? It's hard to believe if the first thing you pop on is a FLAC of a bass-heavy trance song. These handle bass and sub-bass like they were built to do just that (and I suppose they were!). I would go as far as saying that I prefer the bass response on these to that of my MTPG. My MTPG have gotten minimal ear time since the POPO hit my desk. It’s not just quantity, either; to me, the quality of the bass on these is pretty unbeatable for this price. It might not be as quick or tight as the MTPG, but the MTPG is also $200 more than these, and it comes pretty close. There is definitely more bass in the POPO. On the whole, the bass remains relatively tight without becoming thick or flabby, but hits you hard. The Electronica sounds beautiful, and the long basslines of hip hop and rap sound just as wondrous. Bass riffs in alternative rock come out pronouncedly in these and sound fantastic. Every time I put them in my ears, I just can’t believe that bass that good can come from such a reasonably priced IEM. As far as I’m concerned, something like the POPO should kick vanilla Turbines square in the balls and knock ‘em out of the market. I owned a pair of Turbines and enjoyed them quite thoroughly, but having heard these I can no longer justify owning Turbines (unless you are someone who needs all the accessories, I suppose). You will not be let down if bass is what you’re aiming for.
Mids are shockingly clear. Part of this is probably attributable to the fairly close soundstage; Nas sounds like he’s right next to my ear in Get Down off of God’s Son. I’m tempted to write that because the bass is so present it bleeds into the midrange, but I think that’s mostly because I want to find a flaw with these. I’m pretty surprised at the separation there; I have yet to find a song where I thought the mids sounded distinctly poor. Guitar doesn’t sound as prominent as I think it’s supposed to in some recordings (e.g., the acoustic bit at the beginning of “Chop Suey” by System of a Down). They aren’t a mid-oriented or balanced IEM, but they handle mids very well in my opinion. I A-B’d with my MTPG in the aforementioned Nas song, and genuinely preferred the POPO (maybe my MTPG are getting old). I’m listening to vocals specifically as I write this, and the more I listen the more I want to praise the mids on these. Vocals sound GOOD! How is this possible?! I thought these were basshead IEMs!
Highs might be the only area I would critique (and even then, it’s definitely not a deal breaker). The treble definitely gets a little bleed from the midrange, and highs seem to roll off fairly prominently. Sibilance can be a problem in some recordings, but it’s not incredibly substantial. The main problem is just that the highs lack detail and are a little veiled. They’re pretty overwhelmed by the lower frequencies, which can hurt some recordings. However, the melodies I look for in electronica are definitely still present, and it’s not as though highs are poor and make me want to stop listening. If you’re looking for an IEM that will deliver outstanding female vocals and convey lifelike upbeat melodies though, these may not be for you. The lack of separation from lower frequencies and detail in the high end would be my primary sonic beef with these.
Soundstage is respectable; imaging isn’t overwhelmingly impressive by any means, but this is generally fairly hard to convey in an IEM. The POPO soundstage is pretty appropriate for electronica, and as mentioned above, vocals sound close but surprisingly lifelike. I didn’t have high expectations for detail and soundstage, so I was a little pleasantly surprised if anything, but not blown away. These exceed expectations in this regard, but lose out to considerably more expensive IEMs like the IE8s (not surprisingly).
For all you lazy folks (or maybe just the rational ones ):
Packaging and accessories aren’t terribly impressive. Design is very appealing, build quality is sufficient but not awesome. Bass quantity is unrivalled for this price range, quality is very good. Mids are shockingly real and lifelike, male vocals sound excellent. Highs are perhaps the weak area of the spectrum, being a little underemphasized and dwarfed by lower frequencies. Soundstage/imaging are nothing special, but are not lacking.
For $60, I sincerely doubt there is a better option for the bassheads out there. Even for the eclectic listeners, I can’t imagine these being any kind of let-down. Bravo, Hisoundaudio; in my mind, you blew this one out of the water. Looks and sounds like it’d cost $100+ more than it does; outstanding value. A truly unique product.
Feel free to PM me if you have any questions about what I have written; I may get around to uploading pictures later on, but there is an abundance of them around for those curious.
I would like to thank HiSound for giving me a pair of these wonderful headphones for review! As always my reviews strive to be as unbiased as possible, and I’m always welcoming suggestions on how to better organize my reviews, so if you have any comments, tips, or advice feel free to comment and let me know!
Packaging and Build
The packaging is very bland, and does not offer much other then protection during shipping. This is one area I think could be improved, seeing as how companies like DUNU which price similarly tend to come with things like carrying pouches. It did luckily come with a package of different sized ear tips, no adapters or carrying cases here though.
So how is the thing built? Well the wood is very aesthetically pleasing and the units themselves are very lightweight and comfortable. They have a very good fit, one of the better that I’ve tried. However one thing that does bother me is that the headphone cable picks up a lot of noise when brushed up against or touched.
One thing that strikes me immediately is that these headphones have a very soundstage width that is both extensive and very controlled. There is depth to some extent but I’ve noticed that depth is often hard for IEMs (In Ear Monitor) to portray and that proves true here too. But they’ve nailed soundstage in my opinion for an IEM in this price range!
These, like the DUNUs, fit into the bass head category of in ear headphones. It sounds to that bass below 80 Hz is boosted and it does not bleed into the midrange at all, which is very pleasing. The bass has nice punch, but leaves a little to be desired in terms of detail. It seems a little punchier then the DUNUs house sound, with less mid bass. This results in improved vocal reproduction.
Were these shine is in the mids and highs, which I think are very tonally correct. Female vocals come through with detail, presence, and warmth. Highs are not sibilant and are very well controlled, they don’t have shimmering detail or an airy feel to them but they are very pleasant and laid back. Frequency response is good, they seem to go down pretty far, not quite as far as they clam I think but pretty good nonetheless, upper frequency is equally well extended.
So do I think they are worth the asking price of $90? (It can be found for less through authorized retailers) Yes I do think its worth the price, the soundstage is most impressive and possibly the best I’ve heard under $100 in the IEM market. In fact I think these are my new favorite in ear headphones that I own. The only thing I want to see changed is I would love to see it include at least a basic carrying case since most people will be using these on the go and for the price they should include something. With that said I can highly recommend these headphones!