NiceHCK EBX

General Information

New earbud from Jim NiceHCK The EXB

Link: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/201...32839701923.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.pPAR72
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Pros: Incredibly well built, all metal. Sound great

Cons: None found yet

Disclaimer: This item was bought by me, for me as I recently discovered the wonderful world of Chi-Fi earbuds, from extremely low priced to rather expensive ones.

Cost was £110 so mid priced as earbuds go




Construction: All metal construction, removable mmcx connectors, 14.8 mm dynamic drivers, cable supplied is a very nice braided copper with good quality mmcx plugs and terminates in a 3.5 mm plug adorned with a silver carbon fiber effect band that looks stylish and the plug itself has a good depth meaning it fits into my daps with their leather cases no problem.

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Sound:
Bass: in a single word: Fantastic, for an earbud it is probably one of the best I have heard. Impactful, goes deep when needed. Sub bass is present and bass does not bleed into the mids

Mids: Lively, energetic not pushed forward just there as I like it (Near perfect for me to be honest)

Highs: Bright yet smooth, very clear and no hint of screechiness. They have good air and enough sparkle to make cymbals shine

Resolution: Very good there is plenty of detail retrieval. Instrument placement is exceptional.

Music used:
Natalie Merchant - Break your Heart ( From Ophelia) (I know this song intimately and it held up well)
Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here (Rock sounds so good on these)
Pink Martini - Quizas, Quizas, Quizas (Vocals and percussion so clear and accurate)
10cc - Overdraft In Overdrive (Electric piano sounds terrific)

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assassin10000

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Clean, clear and crisp sound.
Smaller 15.9mm diameter may help fit smaller ears.
Cons: Slightly forward and slightly bright signature may be fatiguing.
Physical weight of metal housing may cause fit issues.
Disclaimer: None, I bought these. My second review.


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Brief Intro:
These are NiceHCK's flagship earbuds. I believe they first came out in late 2017. They use a Japanese PET diaphram and have a removable MMCX cable.

Basic Specs:
Driver: Dynamic 14.8mm Japanese PET diaphram.
Frequency Response: 20-22000Hz
Sensitivity: 120dB/mW
Impedance: 32Ω


Unboxing/accessories:

NiceHCK has packaged these earbuds in a compact cardboard box with a foam cutout holding the earbud case. Inside the case are the earbuds individually bagged, the cable and a bag of earbud foams. I do like the fact the earbuds themselves are individually packaged to prevent scratches or other damage to the finish during shipping.

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The packaging is minimalist and maybe not quite the un-boxing experience some would expect for a flagship product. Although this does not bother me, it may for others.

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The earbuds come with a leather cable wrap that uses a button snap and 5 pairs of various earbud foams (2 pairs of donut style foams in blue and black; and 3 pairs of regular/full foams in green, blue and black).

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Build/Fit:
The EBX is a very well built earbud. Unfortunately it is also fairly heavy for an earbud, the rear housing is all metal only the front face is plastic. This is the heaviest earbud I've held. The EBX outside diameter is 15.9mm and is on the smaller side for earbuds. A typical MX500 style earbud housing is around 16.8mm and the PK/Yuin style shell is around 16.1mm.

The thickness main body of the earbud and its actual physical weight poses more of a fit issue than anything else I've noticed. I have smaller ears so these do fit fairly well. When worn cable down any physical movement makes these come loose fairly easily. Despite being shown worn cable down in some of the advertising/marketing photos, I would not recommend wearing them that way unless sitting still. The earpieces are not marked left or right and you are free to swap them from side to side for the best fit. I wear them over ear/cable up with the 'stem' that holds the MMCX connector pointing forwards.

The cable is a nice 8-core copper and silver plated copper mix. It has different weaves above and below the splitter. The MMCX connectors and Plug are chrome plated, and the plug has a silver carbon fiber inlay. There are very short strain reliefs on both the plug and connectors, which I would prefer to be slightly longer. There is no strain relief on the cable splitter but there is a clear flexible silicone cable cinch.


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I recommend using the foam covers, as typically without them bass is anemic. The foam provides enough seal for the bass frequencies to be directed to your eardrum, without them there may be little to no low end bass. This seems to be true for most earbud designs. I tend to prefer a donut style earbud foam as it provides a seal for a better bass response but at the same time does not affect/muffle the mids/treble.

I do listen to these using a donut style earbud foam.

I listen to a mixture of EDM (Dance, Trance, Vocal Trance, House), Classical, Acoustic, Rock and 90's to early 00's Rap.

I am still new to reviewing and the critical listening skills needed to accurately describe sound. So I may not cover some things that may require a more skilled listener to describe.

Note: I do burn-in for 100+ hours. I do not have a USB DAC, a separate amp or a DAP. All my listening is typically done through my smartphone or my laptop.

Despite being 32Ω, the sensitivity of the EBX is high enough that my phone drives it with no issues.


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The sound:

Treble: Good quality and is clean, clear and crisp. Cymbal sounds are present but not piercing or harsh. I have not noticed any sibilance issues.

Mids: Again good quality, clean and clear. Stringed instruments sound good, I noticed nothing unnatural. Female vocals have slightly more emphasis than male vocals. I think there is a slight dip in the lower mids around 500hz that causes this. I believe these were tuned with the Asian market in mind and why this is so.

Bass: Quality is good and very well controlled. Bass is present when called for, it is neither forward nor recessed. There is no mid-bass bleed into the lower mids. The bass response seems linear and does not seem to roll off until in the sub-bass frequencies (below 40-50hz). Which is to be expected as earbuds have a open/non-isolating design.


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Comparisons:

Nicehck EBX vs Smabat ST-10: The EBX has a more linear bass response. The ST-10 has better sub-bass frequency response. Both are good, it just depends on what you would prefer. The mids and highs on the EBX are a little more forward and the EBX is a little bit brighter than the ST-10. The ST-10 is more neutral until it reaches the bass frequencies where it shines. I like both and it's kind of a toss-up. The lower midrange on the EBX sometimes seems a bit lacking, I do use EQ to add a 1.5-2.5db at around 500hz on the EBX. The EBX is a slightly better all rounder but if you prefer bass heavy genres (or are a basshead) the ST-10 would be better for you.

Nicehck EBX vs Ourart ACG: The EBX has a linear bass response that does not roll off until in the sub-bass. The ACG is lacking in low end bass, it rolls off fairly early. If you need some bass or listen to bass heavy genres go with the EBX. Mids/highs are slightly forward and bright on the EBX. The ACG mids/highs are pretty special, they are neutral in quantiy but have great quality. It's hard to describe with words. It's like comparing an older Plasma TV vs a newer LED TV with 'darker' black's, where the color/contrast/etc. is just better. For classical, acoustic, and other genres not needing low end bass I would go with the ACG.


Conclusion/Thoughts:

The NiceHCK EBX is a good all rounder and I think will work well with many genres. It has what I would call a slightly forward and slightly bright sound signature with bass that is neutral in quantity. They do respond to EQ if you want to add bass. I did find them slightly fatiguing for long (4+ hour) listening sessions YMMV.
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Wiljen

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Good bass and sub-bass quantity with great control, balanced signature, great clarity, great cable
Cons: fit is finicky, price will scare some people off.
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Disclaimer: I purchased the NiceHCK EBX at a discounted price for purposes of this review. I also purchased the EB2 (little brother) as part of the lucky bag sale with no discount beyond the sale price applied. Thoughts here are my own and not coerced in anyway.

It has been awhile since I did any earbud reviews and when I started hearing some good things about some of the recent flagships I decided it was time to revisit the category. The last batch I reviewed were decidedly budget models like the Edifier H185, FiiO EM3, and VE Monk. This time I decided to go a bit up the ladder and will be reviewing the Astrotec Lyra Classic and the NiceHCK Eb2 along side the EBX. The EBX and Lyra represent the $100-150 price point while the EB2 dispenses with some of the niceties of the EBX but preserves much of the sound signature in the $40-50 price bracket.

Unboxing / Packaging:

The EBX ships in a small cardboard slip cover style box with very little detail about what is hiding inside printed on the package. Opening the box reveals a small black rubberized soft case bearing the NiceHCK logo. All other items are tucked neatly inside the case. Unzipping the case finds the earbuds themselves (each individually bagged to prevent scratches), the cable (also bagged) and a bag of solid and donut foams. The cable has a nice leather strap with the EBX logo and a snap provided for cable management.

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Build:

The earpieces themselves are two-tone metal with a black ceramic grate covering the driver. The main housing is silver in color with a contrasting gold band that houses the mmcx connector and a silver colored faceplate bearing the NiceHCK name. The face plate has a single small vent below the logo while the rim of the driver housing has 2 elongated slots at the top and bottom to allow airflow. The mmcx connectors sit on a post near the rear of the housing and allow for fairly deep insertion. The post itself and the mmcx connector are both robust and should hold up well if treated with even reasonable care.

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Internals:

The EBX uses a single 14.8mm PET dynamic driver rated at 32Ω with a sensitivity of 120 dB/mW. This is certainly a larger driver than we typically see used for in ear monitors but is increasingly popular for earbuds. For example most of the Lyra series use a similar size driver as does the EB2. It should also be noted that while the EB2 has been referred to as a no-frills EBX, the driver is slightly different as the sensitivity listed by NiceHCK is only 106 dB/mW for the EB2 instead of that listed above, so while the driver type and size are listed as being equal, the sensitivity is slightly different between siblings.

Cable:

The cable provided with the EBX is a first class affair. it is a 8 core cable made of half copper and half silver plated strands in a box weave up to the splitter and a litz braid above the splitter to each mmcx connector. The jack is a straight 3.5 TRS connector with a chrome housing and carbon fiber style inlay. A short strain relief is provided but could be improved by lengthening it. The splitter is a sloped barrel design with a clear slider immediately above it and the mmcx connectors are also chrome barrels with short strain reliefs. Again personal preference would be for a longer strain relief but the cable does seem extremely well made. The cable is also more pliable than most, does not seem to develop a memory or want to kink, and is light enough to wear the EBX tip down without it pulling out of your ears due to cable weight. This is a tough feat to produce a cable that is both sturdy and pliable while also maintaining a weight that doesn’t become problematic.

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Fit:

Any discussion of the EBX is likely to circle back to fit at some point. The earpieces are large enough and with the mmcx protruding from the side of the barrel, it will cause fitment issues for some. While seated, wearing the EBX tip down worked acceptably for me although I found they fit better if I reversed the earpieces so the posts were to the front rather than to the rear of the unit. When moving, it is better to wear the EBX Tip up so the cable can be looped over the ear and prevent cable weight from causing shifts. These issues are not solely an EBX problem but are shared by anything that uses a driver this size and has this much mass in the way of an earbud and many of these same comments will be made regarding the Astrotec Lyra and other similar designs. Some will find the overall fit of the EBX a bit too fiddly for their liking while others will see no issues with it. I fall somewhere between the two camps as I have to work to find a good fit but think the reward is worth finding it.

Sound:

All of my listening notes are done without any foams installed. If you use the EBX with foams, except some differences between my notes and your listening experience.

Bass:

Bass is very well controlled and proportioned. Sub-bass while present is not overstated while mid-bass is just slightly forward when compared to the lower mids. Unlike some others that have tried to compensate for the lack of seal and thus bass-light tendency of earbud designs, NiceHCK has kept everything well controlled and nothing too far above or below anything else in the range. I don’t expect bassheads will like anything that doesn’t seal firmly as sub-bass just cannot be made as punchy in an open design, but those looking for reasonable bass quantity with exceptional control will be rewarded by the EBX.

Mids:

As previously mentioned, the lower mids are slightly recessed when compared to the bass and there is perceptible bass bleed into the mids that provides a bit of extra warmth and body to the overall presentation. As we move into the upper-mids the detail level is exceptional and as a result the upper-mids and lower treble sound extremely clear. The combination of really well done upper mids and lower treble make vocals stand out without detracting from the other instruments in the mix. To me this may be the singular best point of the EBX.

Treble:

Lower treble is again well in sync with the mids and gives a nice unified feel to vocals without a lot of differentiation between lower and upper register vocals. As we move up, the upper treble steps back just a bit and while still providing plenty of air and sparkle avoids sounding metallic or strident. Cymbals have a nice crisp sound without coming off as digital in their reproduction which is a tough thing to do.

Soundstage / Imaging:

For an earbud with one small vent, I expected closed back like performance when it comes to soundstage, but the EBX out-performed my expectations. The stage has both good width and depth and even produced more height than I thought likely at its price point. (Cowboy Junkies Trinity Sessions are a good test for this).



Comparisons:

vs MrZ. Tomahawk

bass is more controlled on EBX with less bleed than Tomahawk.

Tomahawk is more forward treble and may be harsh at times.

Layering and imaging are better on EBX (by a good margin)



vs NiceHCK Eb2

build quality and cable are far better on EBX

Eb2 has 90-95% of the sound quality of the EBX for less than 1/2 the price

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Vs Astrotec Lyra Classic

Lyra Classic has slightly better tonality then EBx.

EBX has better bass extension than Lyra Classic.

Details are better on the EBX when compared to the Lyra Classic.



Thoughts / Conclusion:

Overall, I think the NiceHCK EBx checks a lot of the right boxes. It has a near neutral signature without any major spikes or valleys, along with good extension on both ends. Detail is plentiful without the harshness that sometimes accompanies that. For many, the concept of a flagship earbud will seem like an oxymoron as we grew up with the cheap, and generally poor earbuds that came with devices and anything that seals seemed like a step upward from those. If you fall into that camp, you owe it to yourself to try a really good earbud design like the EBx as there is a sense of air and room size with an earbud that just is not present with designs that do seal the ear canal. Fatigue is also much lower for me than when using in-ears. The EBx is likely to remain in my daily rotation for quite sometime (not unlike the tomahawk before it) as it provides a different experience than any of the in-ear or over-ear headphones I own and is a welcome change of pace while still maintaining the clarity and detail I love when listening. To NiceHCK, I say a job very well done. The EBX deserves the title flagship.

subwoof3r

500+ Head-Fier
Pros: Soundstage.
Details.
Imaging.
Mids and highs.
Cons: Fit may not be the best for many.
Bass (and subbass especially) could have slightly more presence (mainly due to fit problem).
Some build quality and QC issues.
  • English is not my native language but I will (as always) trying my best :)
  • I am not affiliated to anything/anyone, so my review reflects exactly what I really think of the product itself. I bought EBX at a discount price in exchange of this honest review.
  • Note that my pair has been properly burned for about 200 hours before this review (yes! in burn-in: I trust :))

BUILD QUALITY AND ISSUES

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These are my first metal earbuds with MMCX. Clearly these custom metal body looks really good overall, it changes from what we are used to currently see in the market like PK2 or more classics EMX500 shells. NiceHCK did a great job to produce their own custom shells, especially in metal. Finition looks good, even if some slight scratches are visible in some parts. The grid is a more known one, as I already seen this one in other earbuds, so it not custom, but a good grid (slightly big but which fits perfectly the metal shell). Cable finition is pretty good, I really like the mix of copper and silver to achieve both of best worlds into one (copper if known for bring slightly more bass and low frequencies, while silver generally does the contrary). I just found MMCX connectors to be a bit fragile.

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The 3.5mm Plug is a known one too (not custom or using a high generic brand), but it does the job and equals what we can see in other TOTL earbuds).

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The 3.5mm plug

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Quality of the cable is extremely well finished


Let’s finish by the issues..

My first received EBX pair was suffering of a faulty R (Right) driver unit. The sound was not at the same level as the L (Left) one. Also, bass was not the same, it was much less presence than the other driver. After talking with Jim, he agreed to kindly send me two new drivers. The second pair I received was definitely better, both drivers now sounded the same, but my old cable finally is still defective (there is a lot of bad contacts into the right MMCX connector), but nothing really worrying as it works anyway, just a bit annoying sometimes. I ordered a new MMXC cable which finally fixed these bad contacts issue. The only remaining thing is that (still?) on my R (Right) unit, the external metal circle is moving a bit, so when I place the driver on my ear, it don’t feel well finished to me as it’s like this circle or the back metal plate should go out anytime. Hopefully everything will keep in place for the next months of use. When I manipulate my R unit and due to this, sometimes it makes a huge “clac” which can be a bit scaring sometimes. So overall, build quality is really nice but not perfect.

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The new 8-core MMCX cable from NiceHCK (that I used to fix my issue)


COMFORT AND FIT


Metal shells means bigger weight, well just a bit, but it’s generally OK. I place my EBX most of the time like basic earbuds, but I highly recommend to wear them around ears.

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This way you can make some basic moves without readjusting shells in your ears every minutes.


Foam choice is probably the most difficult thing on EBX. All depends of what you are looking for. If you are looking for a better seal, you will probably go for double foams. I did tried it, but I found the sound having much change not in the positive way (reduced soundstage, plus miss clarity and details, also, bass quantity is way too much for my taste). My best sounding on these earbuds was achieved with generic mid-thin and alone foams (ABnormal foams for exemple). With single foams, you will get the most magic EBX benefits and experience.



SOUND QUALITY


Sources used for the review : Fostex HP-A8C (at home) and FiiO E10K (at work). All tracks used for my review are FLAC files or minimum at 320kbps for MP3. I didn’t found EBX to be sensitive to my different sources.



  • Soundstage : extremely wide, spacious and deep. This is probably the most impressive soundstage I heard from any earbuds today. Layering and imaging is just incredible. Soundstage can be extreme and very thin depending on your music, with EBX you can monitor all your best tracks to really know the original soundstage of it (which is quite interesting). Experience is like listening to full open headphones. For sure, NiceHCK did a real great job on this part.
  • Instrument separation : excellent, here also, a very high level of quality. You can discern every details of any instrument without any problem. Listening some guitar and hearing every “pluc” is a pure regal.
  • Bass : Many says that EBX are a bit lacking of subbass and bass, but it not what I feel. As previously said, all depends of the seal first, but if you push towards your ears drivers a bit, you will understand how EBX have bass quantity. But once you put them back on your ears normally, then bass is just perfect, because very linear with other frequencies. It has a lot of impact, not bloated at all. It also reach really low frequency (subass) with effortless. But to really appreciate all its bass quality, you will need to listen to them on a very quiet environment. Sometimes I bring them at work and on an OpenSpace it’s difficult to hear them properly. Anyway, EBX bass is not emphasized at all to let other frequencies explain more. It has the right amount of bass and subbass to me (maybe more bass than sub).
  • Mids : it is where EBX excels. Upper mids is a bit forwarded so you can hear with ease anything of this frequency. A lot of presence, so depending on your music, it can be sometimes annoying. Quality of mids is very nice, I found them extremely good with male and female vocals.
  • Highs : never harsh or sibilant, with extreme micro-details. Due to uppered mids, sometimes high frequency can be a bit irritating, because of being extremely analytical. Clearly, EBX are analytical sounding. They can reach a level of details that I rarely heared from any earbuds till now. It is fine for an hour but if you are a little treble sensitive, be warned. Here also, all depends of which kind of music you are listening.
TOP MUSIC GENRES


To be honest, I’m generally listening most of the time electronic music, but sometimes I listen all kind of music too (jazz, hit, pop, rap, vocals, 80’s, etc) and since SO many days now, I had much fun listening to all kind of music with EBX. Pretty versatile and easy listening earbuds. Definitely a great all-rounder.


COMPARED TO BLOX TM9


Personally, I found TM9 to be sounding overall more natural, transparent and coherent. In addition, subbass and bass presence and quality is much in favor of TM9. Soundstage on TM9 is more intimate but thinner while being depth and large but not extreme like EBX. Layering is also in favor of TM9 (this is of course purely subjective) at the contrary of imaging. While details are much better on EBX (I completely rediscovered all my best tracks with these), I found mids and highs a bit less present on TM9, but when I listen a lot TM9 and swap immediately to EBX, I found mids sounding a bit veiled. Well, on TM9 you have the right amount of everything with additionally more bass presence. They are both complementary but also completely different sounding. I really enjoy them both for now. All depends of what you are looking for.



CONCLUSIONS

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Another pic, still coupled with my other 8-core MMC cable

Jim achieved a truly exceptional earbuds here. They are currently one of my favorite’s earbuds for now. They have truly an exceptional Q/P ratio from what we can currently find on the market. With EBX? You will have a real TOTL sounding earbuds with a price that will afraid many competitors. A gold medal for Jim from NiceHCK to make these earbuds a dream that became true.



MY SUBJECTIVE RESULTS


  • Overall sound quality and appreciation : 4.5/5
  • Soundstage/imaging : 5/5
  • Details : 5/5
  • Bass : 3,5/5
  • Mids : 5/5
  • Highs : 4,5/5
  • Quality/price value ratio : 5/5

Comments

doOgAn

New Head-Fier
Anybody know of a good replacement tip/cover for this? I love the audio quality but trying to get a bit more isolation out of it.

EDIT - Couldn't find an ear cushion for these that offered more isolation but I did find some $3 iLogic earbuds that had REALLY NICE covers that lock them into your ear better and fit these very well. They also don't change the sound signature to drastically.

https://www.amazon.com/iLogic-Sport-Earphones-Mic-Remote/dp/B01G7W4GDG
 
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