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NiceHCK DT600

Rating:
4/5,
  1. Otto Motor
    NiceHCK DT600 -- Close To The Edge
    Written by Otto Motor
    Published Feb 24, 2019
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Audiophile tuning (neutral; minimalistic, fast bass; resolution, clarity); small, comfortable shells.
    Cons - Audiophile tuning (neutral; minimalistic, fast bass; resolution, clarity); mids and treble can be fatiguing at higher volumes; design lifted.
    You also find this review and much more on my blog audioreviews.org


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    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    A neutral sounding earphone with a dry and realistic low end and superb clarity, depth, and resolution appealing to “audiophiles” and purists. While it can be hard on my ears at higher volumes it is the technically best Chifi earphone (out of approximately 20) I have reviewed so far [...which is not a big selection].


    INTRODUCTION

    When I was asked to review this earphone, I quite frankly had little interest, expecting a treble screamer overloaded with drivers, an ODM earphone looking for a proper tuning. According to others, the 3 BA DT300 was overly dark and the 5 BA DT500 had exaggerated treble.

    To my surprise, the DT600 was a revelation showing the shortcomings of the NiceHCK P3and M6 models I had recently reviewed. And the linear frequency response without any suspicious bass hump, upper midrange “mountain”, and unwanted treble spikes let me rejoice: hurrah, finally a multi-driver Chifi earphone with an “expensive-brandname” tuning? Well...

    IMPORTANT NOTE: This earphone is a great example why a points scheme is problematic. Depending on taste, purists may give it a much higher score than bassheads. I expect the DT600 to be extremely polarizing but hope my writeup will make it clear whether this tonality is for you.


    SPECIFICATIONS
    • Brand: NiceHCK
    • Model: DT600
    • Drive Unit: 6 balanced armature (BA) drivers
    • Type: In-ear
    • Impedance: 26Ω
    • Earphone Sensitivity: 110 dB/mW
    • Frequency Range: 20-25000Hz
    • Earphone Plug: 3.5 mm gilded
    • Cable Length: 1.3 m
    • Available Colors: Green, transparent
    • Earphone Plug Type: 90°angled
    • Remote: No
    • Price: $149 (at the time of this review)
    • Discounted Price for Head-Fiers: $99
    • Purchase Link: At the bottom


    IN THE BOX…

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    PHYSICAL APPEARANCE, HAPTIC, AND BUILD QUALITY

    This earphone looks suspiciously like an upscale Shure model. The plastic Shells are a bit of an understatement but appear to be well assembled. The nozzle is uncommonly thin (similar to the Brainwavz B series), therefore be careful when planning on using third-party tips.

    The cable is also a rare find in this price class: it is not the typical braided chain but a straight round one with MMCX connectors, a chin slider and a bit of silver bling bling. To me, it works just fine and looks better than the fixed cables of the Sennheisers, Focals etc. in this price class. The flexiblity is also ok.


    ERGONOMICS, COMFORT, ISOLATION, AND FIT

    Since the DT600 is a Shure lookalike, it also fits like one: the shells, despite packed with 6 drivers each (two more than the equivalent Shure), are surprisingly small and fit my ears comfortably well. Isolation is what you make out of it with the eartips used but is generally good. I am still struggling with bending the unusually stiff memory wire around my ears every time, but this is a minor issue.


    SOURCE AND EARTIPS

    The DT600 comes with pretty looking green foams and narrow-bore rubber tips. The rubber tips come in weird sizes: the L is essentially slightly too big for my ear canals and the M is too small. I therefore used L-sized Brainwavz B400 tips, which are in between in size but of identical design (including a narrow bore) – but later changed to the largest included foam tips.

    As a source, I used my new iphone SE (which sounds identical to my old iphone 5S). Adding the audioquest dragonfly black dac/amp improved the sound remarkably much in terms of detail and resolution compared to other earphones. With or without dac/amp the DT600 are easy to drive.


    TONALITY

    The sound of the DT600 can be characterized as neutral, lean, and extremely clear with a great depth. It has the basic flavour of the likes of Etymotics and the Brainwavz B100, and not the meaty flavour of the iBasso IT01 or the NiceHCK M6/BVGP DMG. The frequency response curve is absolutely stellar: a linear bass, a small emphasis in the lower mids, and no unwanted treble peaks. One could possibly wonder about the early treble rolloff.

    [​IMG]

    And yes, the low end is outright stunning for me: punchy, dry, fast in attack and decay, and not overpowering, just as it should be. The bass is well extended and remains well-controlled down there. Overall, the low end is minimalistic with only a bit of warmth and some may find it too weak and too nimble.

    The midrange is NOT recessed but right into your face, pardon ears. It is lean, neutral, intimate. Female voices are nicely contoured and not enriched and coloured such as in the NiceHCKM6/BGVP DMG.

    But despite the stellar looking curve without any nasty peaks, higher voices and rhythm guitars can be a bit sharp and fatiguing to my sensitive ears at higher volumes– I blame this on the quality of the drivers. Changing from the rubber tips to the foams smoothened the corners significantly (but not entirely) and also added some warmth to the low end. The upper midrange could sound crowded and bordering on hollow, that's where the detail resolution lacked.

    The treble is only reasonably well extended and sometimes marginally hard for my liking. There is some but not too much sparkle and shine at the upper end. A bit more icing would do the cake well.

    There is no sibilance at all, as indicated by the smooth frequency graph.

    Soundstage is wide enough (and less so with the foams) with an enormous depth; a good concerted effort of the six BA drivers. Clarity and resolution are unparalleled in comparison to the other Chifi iems I have reviewed.

    But the clarity comes at a cost: I was struggling with the sharpness in the upper midrange at higher volumesthat really can be fatiguing for sensitive ears after some time (I think my ears are likely more sensitive than yours). Classical instruments could sound unnaturally harsh and overpixelated. This sound signature may explain the relatively early treble dropoff – forced by the tuner in order to avoid getting your eardrums drilled.


    SELECT COMPARISONS

    NiceHCK M6 ($88 on sale): a totally different beast…even with the bass-reducing third-party DMG tuning filters, the M6 is comparatively mushy in both low end and lower midrange/vocals whereas the DT600 is crisp, punchy, and dynamic. The sonic difference is like day-and-night. Some may find the DT600 too snappy, others may find the more analog sounding M6/DMG too soppy. Can’t make it right for everybody.

    [​IMG]


    iBasso IT01 (~$100): the single DD iBasso is also more overall beefier and more organic sounding with a Sennheiser-type low end that somewhat veils the midrange. Despite its lesser resolution compared to the analytical DT600, I do now appreciate the ibasso much more than before after reducing some of its bass with the reversible air-vent mod.


    Brainwavz B400 ($199 list; $159 sale): I can only speak from memory and measurements. The warmer B400 has a pronounced mid-bass hump which I found unrealistic sounding, and it also rolls off relatively early at the upper end so that some people decried the lack of detail in cymbals and high-piano notes. On the other hand, I found the B400 incredibly detailed and much smoother, creamier, and more balanced compared to the DT600, which is more direct and more extended into the sub-bass.


    Brainwavz B200 v1 ($110; discontinued): harder to drive, smoother, more balanced but less resolving and with less depth; both with a lean sound. The DT600 has slightly better separation and detail but the B200 v1 offers more intimate voices. The B200 v1 is more cohesive and more pleasing but simpler, more 2-D with less detail and less treble extension. The DT600 a bit rougher around the edges with more accurate instrument imaging. The B200 v1 has more bass and a smoother presentation.


    Ultimate Ears 900s ($399 list; $179 sale): today an underappreciated classic and hailed as a better resolving B400 [the older, pre-2014 UE900 version, to be accurate]. In terms of low end, it has more bass than the DT600 but less than the B400, at comparable qualities. This makes the UE900s a warmer, smoother, more cohesive, and more inviting iem than the DT600. Despite the dip in the lower midrange, I find the vocals in the UE900s richer, smoother, and more organic, which reflects the quality of its 4 Knowles BA drivers. The UE900s’s earpieces, although somewhat substandard in their build quality including its very basic cables, are so small and intelligently shaped that they even fit better than the DT600’s.


    CONCLUDING REMARKS

    The DT600 is a mixed bag. Some of its aspects are almost perfect such as the frequency response and its low end. But you cannot expect perfection in a $140 (or $99) earphone that hosts 6 drivers – there must be room for improvement to justify all these higher priced iems. And the limitation in this case is the driver quality: while the tuning is exquisite, the sound can be a bit aggressive to my ears at higher volumesafter extended use without any obvious peaks in the frequency response graph. Hardness is not an issue at low to moderate volumeswhere the clarity works superbly well. I would have preferred four higher-end drivers instead of these six while understanding that the number of drivers is a general marketing gimmick. Nevertheless, the DT600's tonality is much superior over the $50-70 fare.

    In a recent review, I had compared the NiceHCK M6/BVSP DMG with a large SUV on a soft suspension. In analogy, the DT600 is like a sporty BMW with a tight suspension: you feel every rock but you have a better handling and lots of fun with it while hoping the road ahead does not get too bumpy.

    You can buy the DT600 only here.

    1. Select your earphone (colour, cable etc.)
    2. Leave a note for the seller in that textbox that you want the $99 audioreviews discount.
    3. Check out...push "other payments"...DO NOT pay
    4. When you go back to "my orders" in the toolbar, you see your order with the comment "awaiting payment"
    5. The seller will manually adjust the price...and you will receive an email..or check back from time to time
    6. Once the price is to your liking, you finalize the payment


    DISCLAIMER

    I was asked by Jim NiceHCK to review this earphone and purchased it for $1. He did not respond to my request of including a return envelope. Following the review, the unit was donated.

    I broke the DT600 in for 50 hours. Just in case...

    About my measurements

    Tonal preference and testing practice

    Test tracks


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