NiceHCK EBX21

General Information

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Latest reviews

Dsnuts

Headphoneus Supremus
NiceHCK EBX21 Flagship earbuds.
Pros: Premium build, CNC machined aluminum alloy housing using a premium dynamic 14.2mm Liquid Crystal Polymer drivers connected to a higher end silver plated copper tinsel cable made for the EBX21. Nicely balanced tuning with surprising detail and imaging from an earbud. Very comfortable to use with included foams and spacers to fit most ears. Proficient technical tuning from treble to bass with an airy smooth wide stage.
Cons: Expensive cable adding to the bottom line pricing on these. Sound leakage which is the norm for earbuds. Roll off in the upper and lower extremities which is the norm for earbuds. Cord noise when worn down. Almost none when worn over the ears.
NiceHCK EBX21
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Earbuds, just by the nature of their design, is something in the middle of an IEM and an on ear headphone. Not really sitting inside your ear canal but just sitting outside on the concha of the ear, I am sure if you're reading this you're very familiar with what buds are all about. Buds make for some comfortable easy listening, utilizing larger dynamics in this case a 14.2mm Liquid crystal polymer for the sound housed in a strong but light aluminum alloy housing. The EBX21 certainly looks the part of a higher end bud but the sound as you all know is what it is all about.

First I would like to thank the NiceHCK team for the review sample. These here are my thoughts on their newest flagship earbud the EBX21. You can purchase and read more about the EBX21 here.

Admittedly I am more of an IEM guy and prefer having the greater isolation than an earbud can provide but for me a good sounding headphone is a good sounding headphone and here we have something Jim and the team at NiceHCK is proud of. It has been a while since I did a review of a bud but when asked if I wanted to put the EBX21 through its paces. I jumped at the chance to hear their newest creation.
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I would assume designing an earbud would be a bit easier than lets say a hybrid earphone with multiple crossovers in a housing design that has to incorporate all of the drivers. Less drivers to work with for one and a universal housing design being the other. The dynamic driver being used for the EBX21 is interesting as I associate liquid crystal polymer material with higher end IEMs and here we get that in the EBX21. The other surprising factor is that these are using a cable that has an RP of $100 on NiceHCK web site. It is not unusual to use a higher end cable for the sound tuning of an earphone but I do believe this is the first earphone or earbud in this case that is using such a higher end cable from the NiceHCK group. Nothing wrong with using a higher end cable per se but this brings the price point of the EBX21 into the serious only earbud category.

The Build
EBX21 uses a CNC machined piece of aluminum alloy for the housing. It does have a bit more weight and substance vs your standard plastic build on most earbuds which is actually a good thing. Very solid in build and design but not weighty enough to be noticeable when worn in the ear, these are very comfortable to use. At the end of the stem incorporates a female end for the mmcx connector. I noticed the cable has a solid flush fitting connection against the stem with no loose swivel effect. This is reassuring as I can imagine a lesser designed connection having some issue with the earpieces that might swivel or not sit tight on the connector, no such issues here. The cable was clearly designed for the ear pieces as they match tight giving a very seamless premium look and feel to the entire earbud. I know some bud aficionados appreciate the bud design for ease of use and their comfort factor. I have to admit when it comes to these aspects you just can't beat earbuds and the EBX21 just disappears sitting lightly in your ears.
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The accessories pack is fairly simple on the EBX21 comes with a NiceHCK square form magnetic case. I am a huge fan of this case as it is roomy enough to throw not just the EBX21 and all the foams but another earphone if need be. Love the magnetic lid vs zip ups which tend to break after use and wear. Comes with 2 sets of round donut like rubber spacers in 2 different sizes. The idea with these things is to enlarge the housing of the EBX21 if need be to fit your ears better. Also comes with a box of foam coverings. 2 sets of donut foams and 2 standard foam coverings. Without the spacers the EBX21 can fit even smaller ears. I am using the medium spacer which increases the diameter of the earbud for my own ear shape. Nicely done on NiceHCKs part for including the spacers.
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The cable is made of a silver plated copper tinsel insulated with a PVC coating, sleeved with a cloth covering. The cable consists of 2 thicker cores which are tightly braided. I have no doubts the cable material and workmanship is of high quality but at $100 a set for this cable. It would have been nice to see a much cheaper alternative which would have made the EBX21 more affordable for more folks. It seems it was a part of the design so I can go with that.

Sound analysis was done using my various sources. Fiio M15, Shanling M6pro, M5s, M3s, Ibasso DX160, Sony ZX300,Cayin N5ii, and for amping Ibasso PB3 and IFI Black label.
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Overall sound of the EBX21
Is actually balanced well but it will depend on how these buds fit on your ears just how much of the sound you're getting with them. What I mean by that is that since we all have different shaped ears these are very comfortable to use for me but again due to the nature of the earbud design. Sound leaking and ambient noise will play a big part in how they sound to you. If you're in an environment where you absolutely must hear ambient background noise then these will be right up your alley. Bass and mids are actually boosted on these as most earbuds I have heard but the reasoning for this is that buds sitting loosely in your ears will lessen the perception of mids and bass. If you press against the buds when you're listening to them. You get a much warmer fuller body of sound in general but even when you think the bud is sitting correctly in your ears it is not sealed 100% so bass and mids and treble extension to a lesser degree will sound lighter with less body. Which in the end that bit of extra bass and mids emphasis actually balances out the sound in real world usage.
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The resolution.
The highs of the EBX21 are actually very surprising. Clean, crisp articulate and dimensional the treble end of the EBX21 sees a bit of an uplift in the lower trebles and has very good detail for earbuds. In fact it has one of the best treble renditions I can recall for any earbuds I have heard. No strange resonances or spikes in the high frequencies I can hear, treble sees a slight enhancement over the mids to bass but sounds very natural on the EBX21. The resolving ability of these buds are here in part due to the larger resolving drivers and that cable they are using for optimum transparency. The treble end is non fatiguing and has just the right amount of emphasis. Treble is not so bright as to cast a shadow on the tonality of the EBX21 but has a solid moderate amount of emphasis in the region. It probably has some better extension than what I am hearing but only if it was sealed inside my ears. Overall I have no concerns for the treble end of the EBX21.

The dimensional character of the treble end is something I wasn’t expecting here, treble can materialize outside the earbuds from all around you depending on the recording. This shows the EBX21 to have a solid sense of resolution especially in the treble region.
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The technical.
Due to the looser fitting nature of earbuds the sound can be airy with a larger stage. The design has a larger vent on the back bottom part of the bud housing in front of the stem which also allows for proper breathing for the larger driver. For earbuds I find the stage to be above average which is actually a wider stage vs in ears. Staging sees a good height to the sound but can lack some depth depending on how they fit in your ears. If they fit snug enough depth increases if they fit a bit loose they will lack overall depth and body of sound.

The overall excellent sense of stage here makes for awesome sessions for live recordings and sweeping orchestral scores. Has surprising detail for more complex tracks and very engaging for vocal performances.
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Imaging is another stand out feature of the EBX21 especially toward the upper half of the sound spectrum. Stage on an earbud is closer to an open type of sound profile. AKA open cans, here the EBX21 can sound airy with a good tonal balance and a solid technical foundation for the sound. It has good details on a macro level but due to that open nature lacks the final bits of micro detailing especially for the lower mids and bass ends. Bass guitars lack that final low end reverb for example, Vocals and instrument timbre while accurate can lack the low end body that completes the sound profile for a more natural timbre. Again this will all depend on how the buds fit your ear shape and how that changes the body of the sound.

Mids overall has a good sense of immersion due to an above average imaging in the region and here the meat of your music will sound very good with an airy smooth tint to the sonics. Mids especially has been compensated for how buds sit in your ears so it does seem to have some lower mid range forwardness. Mids to the treble sees the most clarity for the nature of earbuds and here the EBX21 sounds great for the eclectic music listener. They do have a good amount of bass end to the design but there are plenty of bassier buds.
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The Dynamic sound.
Bass end sounds punchy with good but not outstanding agility and has an enthusiastic amount of mid bass emphasis but due to how earbuds by nature just sits in your concha does not seal enough to really hear the lowest of notes the EBX21 can dole out. For example the lowest notes from NAS, if I ruled the world. One of my test tracks for low bass has a sub bass hit that will sound faint with phones with a sub bass roll off. And here the EBX21 does hit that note but is barely discernible. If you press against the buds for a tighter seal. That is when the sub bass note will appear. It would be ideal if bass notes can come in that clear in an earbud but for the most part you're gonna hear upper to mid bass with a steep drop off in the lowest of notes. Unfortunately that is the case with all earbuds not just the EBX21. Sub bass is there but will lack the rumble these earbuds can emit. For some the buds will sit tight enough for you to get a warmer bigger bass take on the sound profile, so the bass end to mids performance will vary depending on how they fit for you.

I found that using the mid expansion rubber ring, then a standard foam cover and then another donut cover on top of that makes the housing thick enough for the bass end to not sound anemic for my ears. So trial and error with the included expansion rings and foams should yield good results.
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In the end
The EBX21 is a solid and surprisingly technical sounding earbud that I have to wonder if NiceHCK could use this exact driver and tuning in an earphone would sound even better. The tuning is balanced well with a slight skew toward the mid bands. The appeal of a great sounding earbud is in full force here. Has some of the best imaging I have heard in an earbud format with that airy larger stage. The EBX21 makes for a compelling, something different in the earphone realm. I know earbuds are not for everyone but for folks looking for a higher end tuning and sound from a new bud the EBX21 has to be one of the best at the price range. Thanks for reading and as always happy listening.
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RikudouGoku

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Very good quality from bass to treble
Huge soundstage
Details (macro/micro)
Instrument separation/imaging
Timbre
Tonality
Replaceable MMCX connector
Build quality
Cons: Typical bud bass in both quality/quantity
Versatility, not good with bassy tracks (typical of buds)
Fit not that good
Overpriced stock cable with more downsides than benefits
Not that good value when other buds at lower prices are performing very close and the stock cable being half the price of the bud itself
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Disclaimer: I received this review unit for free by HifiGO, thank you very much.

Price: 220-230 usd

Specifications:

Impedance: 32Ω

Earphone sensitivity:121dB/mW

Frequency range:20-32000Hz

Driver:14.2mm Japan LCP Diaphragm Dynamic Driver

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Accessories:

2 pairs of silicone rings

2 pairs of full foams

2 pairs of donut foams

Hard carry case


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Cable: It is a pretty high-quality cable, but there are some flaws with it. First off, it measures pretty high at the price it is at (the cable is around 100 usd), at a resistance of 0.39 ohms. Secondly, it the chin-slider is completely worthless, it easily slides up/down without resistance. Not only that, while it travels up/down it generates a lot of noise akin to a jacket zipper and the cable itself also has some microphonics. And lastly, the weight of the cable is a bit too heavy, so it interferes with the fit of the bud itself (more on that later). Other than the complains, the divider/connectors are all metal so durability shouldn’t be a problem.




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Build: Made out of matte metal and is well built. A bit on the smaller side and heavier than usual buds (that tend to be made out of metal).

Fit: Doesn’t fit me as good as a regular MX500 shell but not a problem unless I move around. As always, fit is highly personal.

Comfort: Not a problem, smaller size means it doesn’t come into contact with my ears as much as a bigger shell does and that means lower heat generation/fatigue. Very good

Isolation: None, it is a bud after all.



Setup: Ibasso DX160 (Low gain, volume around 31), full foams, stock cable 4.4mm

Lows:
Very typical bud bass, fast/tight so it is clean and decent texture but lacking in quantity and rumble is almost none-existent with poor extension. Not for bass-heads for sure and will not suit bassy genres like Hip-hop, Trance, EDM.

Mid-bass: Metallica – fight fire with fire (01:11-01:52), very fast and tight so it is clean. Texture is good but quantity is a bit lacking. The (02:55-03:01) section with the chopper is clean but could be a bit more hearable.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Pretenders (01:18-01:47), Good texture and speed/tightness. But lacking in quantity.

Sub-bass: Djuro – Drop that bass (01:15-01:30), bass extension and rumble are poor like earbuds usually are. Punch is also lacking in quantity and texture but clean due to it and the speed/tightness.

Will Sparks – Sick like that (03:08-03:22), could have better texture and a lot more quantity. Clean due to the speed/tightness.

Mids: Forward vocals with both male/female and well tuned without shoutyness while being clean and detailed. Balancing is very good and doesn’t lean too much towards female over male vocals. Very natural timbre and tonality is very good as well. Good for vocal listeners that don’t want a fatiguing treble.

Female-vocals: Hiroyuki Sawano – OldToday (01:25-01:52), Vocal tonality is great and very clean and detailed. Instrument tonality does need to be a bit warmer, but still very natural due to the timbre.

Yuki Hayashi – MightU (01:58-02:55), Vocals are very clean and detailed as well as a very natural timbre for both instruments/vocals. But vocal tonality needs some more brightness.

Evanescence – Bring me to life (01:18-01:35), not shouty or sharp at all, very non-offensive and relaxing.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Crescent (02:07-02:26), a tiny bit shouty, very impressive as this track is usually very offensive.

Male-vocals: Hiroyuki Sawano – Pretenders (00:57-01:17), very good tonality and timbre with top tier naturality and clean/detailed as well.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Scapegoat (00:57-01:17), needs to be warmer for both instrument/vocals. But very clean and detailed.

Treble: Linkin Park – Shadow of the Day (03:24-03:42), clean and detailed without sharpness.

Deuce – America (03:03-03:16), non-offensive and not peaky at all.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Lose (string version) (01:22-01:59), Cello tonality can be a bit warmer, but timbre, details and clarity are great. Violin tonality can be a bit brighter, but timbre, details and clarity are great along with treble-extension.

Hiroyuki Sawano &Z (02:18-02:57), very good tonality, clean and detailed while vocals are neutral.

Soundstage: Soundstage is huge in width and very good in depth.

Tonality: Warm tonality and very non-offensive overall. Note-weight is in the middle and isn’t too thick (musical) or too thin (analytical). It is a jack of all trades master of none, type of tonality. Timbre is excellent as one would expect from a bud.

Details: Very detailed in both macro/micro-details and does it without boosting the treble, very impressive.

Instrument Separation: Great, not a problem with any of my tracks. Imaging is also very good. (although not as accurate as some TOTL iems such as the Sony EX1000.)

Songs that highlight the Earbud: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WW4uiWhACgg

Good genres:
Acoustic/vocal music

Bad genres: EDM, Trance, Hip-hop, (bassy music)





Comparisons:

Earbud: Toneking Dendroaspis Viridis, full foams, stock cable 3.5mm

Bass:
Djuro – Drop that bass (01:15-01:30), lower extension and a bit more rumble on the EBX21. Very similar punch quantity and quality, but a bit tighter and faster on the Viridis.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Pretenders (01:18-01:47), Cleaner on the Viridis due to the speed/tightness but a bit more textured on the EBX21.

Metallica – fight fire with fire (01:11-01:52), very similar bass quality and quantity. A bit warmer tonality on the EBX21.

Mids: Hiroyuki Sawano – OldToday (01:25-01:52), Vocal tonality is a bit better on the Viridis but both are similarly forward with the vocals. Instrument tonality is better on the EBX21 and also a bit better with the timbre. Macro-details are better on the Viridis but better micro-details on the EBX21, very similar details overall.

Evanescence – Bring me to life (01:18-01:35), shoutier on the Viridis, more fatiguing.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Scapegoat (00:57-01:17), better vocal/instrument tonality on the EBX21 due to the warmth and timbre is a bit better as well, so naturality is better on the EBX21. Details are similar but better clarity on the Viridis (probably cheating a bit with the treble quantity).

Treble: Linkin Park – Shadow of the Day (03:24-03:42), peakier and more fatiguing on the Viridis.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Lose (string version) (01:22-01:59), Cello tonality, timbre and details are better on the EBX21. Violin tonality is a bit better on the Viridis, but similar texture, details and timbre.

Hiroyuki Sawano &Z (02:18-02:57), similar tonality and details. But a bit better timbre on the EBX21 while vocals are a bit more forward on the Viridis.

Technicalities: Shiro Sagisu – Hundred years war (02:24-02:57), very similar soundstage. Macro-details is a bit better on the Viridis while micro-details is a bit better on the EBX21. Timbre and imaging are better on the EBX21. Instrument separation is a bit better on the Viridis (due to cleaner low-end).

Overall: The EBX21 is the more non-offensive and relaxing bud with a more neutral sound than the brighter Viridis, this also makes the EBX21 a bit more versatile (although they both are still vocals/acoustic music specialists). Technicalities are very close between them but a bit more refined on the EBX21. Although when it comes to value, the Viridis is the much better one.



Earbud: NiceHCK ME80, full foams, stock cable 3.5mm

Bass:
Djuro – Drop that bass (01:15-01:30), bass extension is similar. But rumbles more on the ME80. A bit tighter and faster on the EBX21 so it is cleaner, but more quantity on the ME80 while texture is similar.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Pretenders (01:18-01:47), tighter and faster on the EBX21, more quantity on the ME80 while texture is similar.

Metallica – fight fire with fire (01:11-01:52), tighter and faster on the EBX21 but lacking a lot of quantity and warmth in the tonality so it sounds more natural on the ME80.

Mids: Hiroyuki Sawano – OldToday (01:25-01:52), better vocal tonality and details on the EBX21 while similarly forward vocals. But instrument tonality is much better on the ME80 due to the EBX21 lacking a lot of warmth there. Timbre is similar but due to the instrument tonality, the overall naturality is better on the ME80.

Evanescence – Bring me to life (01:18-01:35), less fatiguing on the ME80 due to it being warmer.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Scapegoat (00:57-01:17), cleaner and a bit more detailed on the EBX21, but more natural tonality on the ME80 (with both vocals and instruments).

Treble: Linkin Park – Shadow of the Day (03:24-03:42), less sharp electric guitars on the ME80 and more relaxing tonality.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Lose (string version) (01:22-01:59), Cello tonality is better on the ME80, better details on the EBX21 while timbre and texture are similar.

Hiroyuki Sawano &Z (02:18-02:57), better tonality on the ME80 while cleaner and more detailed on the EBX21.

Technicalities: Shiro Sagisu – Hundred years war (02:24-02:57), a bit bigger soundstage on the EBX21. Details, instrument separation and imaging are better on the EBX21. Timbre is similar though, but tends to sound more natural on the ME80 due to its tonality being better with a lot of instruments.

Overall: The ME80 sounds more natural than the EBX21 due to it having the warmth that the EBX21 lacks for a lot of instruments (and male vocals). But otherwise, the EBX21 is a step over the ME80, but not by much since the ME80 is very well tuned and has exceptional tonality. The difference is mostly in the instrument separation and imaging that are more accurate. But from a value perspective I say you should get the ME80 over the EBX21 as it already does a lot of the things the EBX21 does. Of course, if you are rich then the more refined EBX21 will probably be a better pick but then you might need another bud for warmer tracks since the EBX21 doesn’t do them very well.



Earbud: NiceHCK MX500, full foams, stock cable 3.5mm

Bass:
Djuro – Drop that bass (01:15-01:30), extends and rumbles a lot more on the MX500. Texture, speed and tightness are better on the EBX21 but a lot more quantity on the MX500 and better tonality. MX500 is much better here.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Pretenders (01:18-01:47), more quantity on the MX500 but tighter, faster and a bit more textured on the EBX21. More fun on the MX500 but cleaner on the EBX21.

Metallica – fight fire with fire (01:11-01:52), much cleaner on the EBX21 due to the speed/tightness while texture is similar.

Mids: Hiroyuki Sawano – OldToday (01:25-01:52), vocal tonality is better on the EBX21 but better instrument tonality on the MX500. Better details and cleaner on the EBX21.

Evanescence – Bring me to life (01:18-01:35), less peaky and shouty on the MX500.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Scapegoat (00:57-01:17), better vocal/instrument tonality on the MX500. But cleaner and more detailed on the EBX21.

Treble: Linkin Park – Shadow of the Day (03:24-03:42), more relaxing and less sharp on the MX500.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Lose (string version) (01:22-01:59), Cello tonality and texture are much better on the MX500 but more detailed and cleaner on the EBX21, timbre is similar but naturality goes to the MX500. Violin tonality, timbre, details and clarity are better on the EBX21. Treble extension is also better on the EBX21.

Hiroyuki Sawano &Z (02:18-02:57), a bit better tonality on the MX500 but sounds a bit bloated, much cleaner and more detailed on the EBX21.

Technicalities: Shiro Sagisu – Hundred years war (02:24-02:57), soundstage is a bit bigger on the EBX21 and airier. Details, instrument separation and imaging are better with the EBX21. Timbre is similar.

Overall: A lot warmer tonality and bassier on the MX500 but technicalities and overall resolution are much better on the EBX21, MX500 sounds a bit bloated on some tracks.



Earbud: Yincrow X6, full foams, stock cable 3.5mm

Bass:
Djuro – Drop that bass (01:15-01:30), extends and rumbles a ton more on the X6. Punch quantity is also massively more on the X6 but much tighter and faster on the EBX21 while texture is similar a bit better on the X6. X6 has a much more natural bass and is much closer to iems than buds.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Pretenders (01:18-01:47), tonality is much better on the X6 as well as bass quantity and texture. Tighter and faster on the EBX21 but not as natural.

Metallica – fight fire with fire (01:11-01:52), more quantity on the X6 but a lot more bloated. Cleaner and more detailed on the EBX21.

Mids: Hiroyuki Sawano – OldToday (01:25-01:52), better instrument tonality on the X6 but a lot better vocal tonality and forwardness on the EBX21. Cleaner and more detailed on the EBX21.

Evanescence – Bring me to life (01:18-01:35), more relaxing and much less peaky on the X6.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Scapegoat (00:57-01:17), better instrument/vocal tonality on the X6 but much cleaner and detailed on the EBX21.

Treble: Linkin Park – Shadow of the Day (03:24-03:42), more relaxing and much less sharp on the X6.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Lose (string version) (01:22-01:59), Cello tonality, timbre and texture are better on the X6 but more detailed on the EBX21. Violin tonality, timbre, details and treble extension are much better on the EBX21.

Hiroyuki Sawano &Z (02:18-02:57), a tie in tonality but more forward vocals, cleaner and more detailed on the EBX21.

Technicalities: Shiro Sagisu – Hundred years war (02:24-02:57), Soundstage, details, imaging and instrument separation on the EBX21 is outclassing the X6. Timbre is similar.

Overall: They are very different from each other, with the much more bassy, relaxing and fun X6. While the EBX21 is the more technical and with better resolution. If you listen to more acoustic/vocal tracks, the EBX21 will be better, but with more bassy genres like hip-hop, EDM and trance the X6 is the much better choice.




Conclusion: A well-tuned bud with very good technicalities. But value isn’t as good as some other buds and it is due to that overpriced cable that has more faults than benefits. If NiceHCK sold the EBX21 with another cable (and lower the price due to not having a 100 usd cable) I would have highly recommended this for bud lovers, but as it is right now, I only say it is a great but pricey bud. Thanks for reading.

Reference/test songs:
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rprodrigues
rprodrigues
Great review!
Thank you for sharing.
Grev
Grev
I’d like to try it but it is a bit much in price... let me find that earbud master thread...
RikudouGoku
RikudouGoku
@Grev Yes, its price is a bit too high thanks to that damn cable. Pray that NiceHCK changes to cable to another one and reduce the price that way. :joy:

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