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NiceHCK EP35

Rating:
3.9/5,
    • Product Name: NiceHCK EP35 in-ear earphone
    • Brand: NiceEHCK
    • Model: EP35
    • Color: Black
    • Type: In-ear
    • Impedance: 32Ω±15% Ω
    • Sensitivity: 103db/mW
    • Frequency Range: 40-40000Hz
    • Earphone Plug: 3.5mm plug
    • Cable Material: Silver plated
    • Cable Length: 1.2m±5cm
    • Earphone Plug Type: Line type
    • Connector Type: MMCX
    • Drive Unit: Single 13.5mm dynamic driver

    • HTB18SpKB5CYBuNkSnaVq6AMsVXae.jpg
HungryPanda likes this.

Recent Reviews

  1. Wiljen
    NiceHCK EP35 - Lush Mids, splashy treble
    Written by Wiljen
    Published Dec 27, 2018
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Bass is well controlled and mids are nicely forward
    Cons - Treble is a bit grainy and can be harsh. Cable lacks any strain reliefs and is mis-labeled.
    [​IMG]


    I purchased the EP35 at a discounted rate from NiceHCK at Jim’s recommendation. Thoughts presented here are solely my own and I have received no guidance from the Vendor or manufacturer.

    Unboxing / Packaging:

    The EP35 comes in the standard NiceHCK Brown lift top box with the logo and model designation on the front and the pertinent data on the reverse in both English and Chinese. Inside the box is the standard soft case in a foam frame. The headphones and tips are hiding inside the soft case. 3 sizes of tips are provided.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Build/Fit:

    The earpieces are similar to an earbud style with a small barrel at the rear with an MMCX connector and a larger disk at the front with the nozzle offset to the lower lead edge of the earpiece. Nozzles themselves are oval in shape but still take standard 400 sized tips. Venting is provided by 4 ports on the inner face of the earpiece adjacent to the nozzles. L/R are clearly marked on the inner surface as well. No branding is present on the earpieces themselves but the casing on the mmcx connector is labeled EP35. Seems odd to have the model number associated to the cable rather than the earpiece but real estate on the outside of the shell is very limited due to design. Overall the EP35 is small enough and light enough weight that I found them very comfortable for long wear although prone to movement during activity. A chin slider is always appreciated with this style of in ear.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Internals:

    The driver is listed as a single dynamic of 13.5mm with an impedance of 32Ω and a sensitivity of 103dB. I had no trouble driving the EP35 with the Cayin N3 on low gain as well as with the LG v30. Rumor is that the driver is the same one used in the Onkyo E700M and it is entirely possible that NiceHCK is the OEM for the e700 as the two bear a more than passing resemblance to each other. Interestingly. Yinyoo lists a very similar in-ear but the specs are enough different to make me think the shell is the same but the driver is not. 16Ω vs 32Ω and one listed as 12mm vs 13.5.


    Cable:
    The provided cable is silver-plated copper in a clear casing. the 3.5mm straight TRS plug is gold plated with a black casement that matches the earphones. The cable exits the jack in a 4 wire braid with no strain relief at the base of the jack. Particularly on a straight jack, I would have preferred to see a good strain relief but none are present anywhere on the length of the cable. The splitter is a cone shape in the same color metal as the earpieces and again no strain relief is provided on either side of it. The cable exits the splitter as 2 strand braids running to the mmcx connectors. Again the mmcx connectors are in matching finish giving the cable a nice aesthetic but again no strain relief exists. One gripe I have to bring up is the cables are marked incorrectly. I thought this was a one time QC issue but received a 2nd pair with the same issue and spoke with several others who have reviewed the EP35 as well and found that all indeed have the Red marking on the left cable. This is easy enough to fix with a bit of blue paint and polarity is correct if Left and Right are reversed so many may own the EP35 and never realize the mistake. I first noticed it with a couple tracks that bounce the melody line left to right and then back between instruments. If you have the EP35, you may want to check this and reverse the cable. Most other reviewers suggested they had previously replaced the cable anyway so this may not be an issue at all if that is the intent.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Sound:

    I used the largest provided tips to do all of my listening to this iem.

    Bass:

    Sub-bass is not emphasized and rolls off pretty substantially below about 70Hz. Mid-bass is also linear without a pronounced hump and is faster on attack than expected. Decay is a bit slower which makes the EP35 sound well controlled in the bass while still bringing a bit of extra warmth and body to the mix. The Downside is that it can get a little muddy at times when tracks get particularly fast and busy.

    Mids:

    Mids rise from the mid-bass and push vocals a bit forward of the rest of the signature making the EP35 a good choice for a cappella or choral. Upper-mids are emphasized but not disproportionately and don’t jump out as aggresive or over-done. Clarity and detail in the mids is better than expected. The forward push of the upper mids and lower treble also helps make percussion attack sound more natural than most IEMs in its class. Overall if the EP35 does one thing well, the Mids are it.

    Treble:

    Treble is a mixed bag on the EP35, lower treble takes a step back from the mids but rises again at around the 7kHz mark and adds a bit of brightness back into the mix but can also introduce a bit of sibilance if the track is prone to it. Roll-off above about 11kHz is fairly quick. This leaves the EP35 with some air and sparkle but prevents rendering of cymbals and tambourine from sounding natural and proper. Overall the treble is good (especially at the price) but after the table set by the bass and mids, falls short of what I was hoping for. The lack of upper extension coupled with the 7kHz resonance prevents this from being a recommended earphone to being a cautioned recommendation as EQ goes a long way on the EP35 but many will not want to do that.



    Soundstage / Imaging:

    Soundstage on the EP35 is quite large but can be tough to define as the push of the vocals forward makes them feel a bit more intimate. Overall the stage is broader than deep with some sense of height. Depth is average for the class while width is a bit better than average. Imaging is solid but suffers occasionally as tracks get too busy for the EP35 to keep up. If tracks are kept to small ensembles the EP35 does well. When full orchestra is on tap, the EP35 can struggle a bit.

    [​IMG]



    Thoughts / Conclusion:

    Overall the EP35 is a qualified recommendation. The cable issue is obviously a bit disappointing, but in reality impacts very little. The sound signature is good and gets better with a bit of EQ. Overall the EP35 is best reserved for Choral or vocal pieces where it isn’t overwhelmed like it can be when used for full orchestra pieces. Those looking for an in-ear that can be worn comfortably for extended periods and like a well controlled bass with forward mids will find the EP35 particularly appealing. Those who are more treble sensitive will want to either EQ the EP35 a bit or may want to look to another in-ear.
      harry501501 likes this.
  2. DallaPo
    NICEHCK EP35 | 1*DD | Rating: 7.8
    Written by DallaPo
    Published Oct 30, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - very neutral sound
    good treble extension
    good voice reproduction
    Cons - poor fit
    a tad bright
    cable quality
    design
    intro
    NICEHCK has a wide range of in-ears, starting from 10 € up to a three-digit range. This one has a single-dynamic driver, which is more likely to be found in Ear-Buds. The sound is similar, because Ear-Buds do not sit in the ear canal but on it, so they don't have much bass and are tuned more neutral. Due to the design with the short nozzles, I would rather call the EP35 a hybrid between Ear-Bud and In-Ear.

    Handling
    Unfortunately it is immensely important with the EP35 how well it sits in the ear to get a good sound result. This is harder than expected. The in-ear is very flat and has short nozzles. These are also unusually oval in shape. This leads to the fact that you have problems getting a secure hold with the included silicone tips, because they don't reach deep enough into the ear canal, so that a proper isolation is given.

    Double silicone tips, which have not only one but two lamellas, are longer and therefore there is a chance to get them deeper into the ear, help here.

    Otherwise, a silver-plated 8-core MMCX cable is included, which unfortunately produces some cable noise when moving.
    The included transport box is very high quality and a nice addition!

    Sound
    In the budget class in which we generally operate here, you won't find many comrades-in-arms who are as neutral as the EP35. To be mentioned here are the HIFI-WALKER A1, or the TIN AUDIO T2.

    From a 14mm driver you expect basically more bass. While the bass is present and does an accurate job, the sub-bass drops too fast and is too tight. The mid-bass gives the neutral tuning some warmth and works very cleanly. It may be a bit more, but in this case it fits well into the overall sound of the EP35. As already mentioned, this also depends very much on what kind of fit you get in your ear.

    The mids are super clear and tonal very clean. Voices have a pleasant presence and position themselves well in the sound field. A little more body could not hurt, but that would also reduce neutrality. I like it a bit fuller and warmer, but I could also get a lot out of the T2, although it is superior to the EP35 in all aspects and so the price difference can be justified.
    The instrument separation is good and the stage is pleasantly wide and airy.

    This is due to the high frequencies, which are slightly raised. They sound open, clear and rich in detail. You also never get the feeling to miss anything in the high frequency ranges, because they play very linearly into the inaudible range.
    It is unpleasant at very high volume levels at most, but due to the high impedance these in-ears are naturally quieter compared to many others.

    All in all, the frequency response from 40/50 Hz up to the top is very balanced and it is relaxed to listen to music with the EP35, even if they are too bright for me from time to time.

    Outro
    The EP35 is certainly not everyone's cup of tea, but it's extremely pleasing when you like a neutral tuning and natural reproduction of your music. Here and there the highs are a bit too prominent, but you quickly get used to the signature. A good fit is absolutely necessary in order not to have to completely do without bass. This doesn't make the EP35 easy for you, but you will be rewarded.
    The cable could also be better, as it makes the sound a little brighter and is not noise-free.

    Fans of neutrality should rather go for the TIN AUDIO T2, which also has more to offer musically, due to the difficult to overcome weaknesses in the design.
    ___________________________________________________
    more reviews at:
    https://david-hahn.wixsite.com/chi-fiear
      jibberish likes this.
  3. darmanastartes
    Neutral Gem
    Written by darmanastartes
    Published Oct 4, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - neutral tuning, detailed, comfortable, efficient, nice carry case, detachable cable
    Cons - shallow fit, poor isolation with stock tips, anemic bass with stock tips, no strain relief on included cable
    2018-10-03 05.13.42 1.jpg

    INTRODUCTION/DISCLAIMER:


    The NICEHCK EP35 is an IEM with a single 13.5mm dynamic driver and detachable MMCX cables that retails for $32.99 at the time of this review. The EP35 is sold by the NiceHCK Audio Store on AliExpress. I purchased the EP35 at a promotional price of $0.10 in exchange for this review. My thoughts about the EP35 are my own and I will strive to review the EP35 objectively. This review can also be read on my blog here.

    2018-10-03 05.13.52 2.jpg

    ABOUT ME

    I listen mostly to heavy metal, hip hop, and electronic music, as well as movie and video game soundtracks. I value detail, clarity, and soundstage above other acoustic qualities. I like mild V-shaped sound signatures with a slightly elevated upper midrange.

    2018-10-03 05.13.43 1.jpg

    SOURCES

    I have used the NICEHCK EP35 with the following sources:

    Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Global > NICEHCK EP35

    Windows 10 PC > JDS Labs The Element > NICEHCK EP35

    I have tested these headphones with Spotify Premium high-quality streaming and local FLAC.

    2018-10-03 05.13.59 1.jpg

    PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES

    The EP35 comes in a simple rectangular metallic brown box with the manufacturer’s logo in silver on the front. Inside this box is a NICEHCK-branded semi-rigid zippered carry case containing the IEMs and eartip selection. The EP35 comes with a single braided silver MMCX cable and two sets of eartips (grey silicone [Small, Medium, Large,], and black silicone [Small, Medium].

    2018-10-03 05.13.55 1.jpg
    2018-10-03 05.13.57 1.jpg
    2018-10-03 05.13.58 1.jpg 2018-10-03 05.13.52 1.jpg

    BUILD QUALITY / DESIGN

    2018-10-03 05.13.50 2.jpg

    The EP35’s design is said to be similar to the Onkyo E700M, with disk-shaped housings that rest against the surface of the ear, a short cylinder protruding outwards, and short nozzles with an elliptical cross section. The nozzles are covered by metal mesh. The housings are mostly polished metal with plastic on the ear-facing surface. The EP35 has four circular vents on each housing on the ear-facing surface of the disk. I have had zero issues with driver flex with the EP35. The EP35 is only intended to be worn cable-down. The included cable, while attractive, flexible, and mostly non-microphonic, does not have any strain relief or an adjustable choker, and uses a straight 3.5mm plug.

    2018-10-03 05.13.39 1.jpg

    FIT / COMFORT / ISOLATION

    The EP35 is very comfortable, with the disk housings sitting securely inside my small ears. The cylinder part of the housing does extend past the surface of the ear slightly, but I have been able to sleep wearing them without much trouble. The EP35 has a shallow insertion depth, improving comfort but resulting in poor isolation and seal, especially with the stock eartips.

    2018-10-03 05.13.50 1.jpg

    SOUND

    The sound signature of the EP35 is neutral with extended treble. Eartip selection is critical to getting a good bass response. The stock eartips do not provide an adequate seal to realize the full potential of these IEMs.

    With the triple-flange eartips from the Mee Audio Pinnacle P1 the EP35 has a lean and controlled bass response with good sub-bass extension, but with the stock tips the bass region is anemic. Bass texture is limited. There is not enough mid-bass to slam, but bass attack is fast and tight.

    Mids are balanced and clear. In contrast to a lot of other budget IEMs, lower mids are not recessed. Male vocals are clear and intelligible. There is a slight lift in the upper mids which lends the EP35 excellent presence without being too bright.

    Treble is mostly linear and is detailed with no roll off. I did not notice any sibilance.

    Soundstage width is above average for a sub-$50 IEM, though soundstage height is cramped. Instrument separation is average.

    2018-10-03 05.13.44 1.jpg

    MEASUREMENTS
    EP35.jpg
    My measurements were conducted with a Dayton iMM-6 microphone using a vinyl tubing coupler and a calibrated USB sound interface at a resonance point between 7.5 and 8k. The measurements are presented with 1/24th smoothing and without compensation. Measurements above 10k are not reliable.

    COMPARISONS

    The Yersen FEN-2000 is a sub-$30 hybrid (1DD+1BA). The FEN-2000 is much warmer and more V-shaped, with a more recessed midrange and more elevated lower treble. The FEN-2000 has better bass texture and more mid-bass slam. The EP35 sounds more coherent and natural. The FEN-2000 is slightly airier than the EP35. The FEN-2000 has a slightly larger soundstage.

    AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS AND SOURCE PAIRING

    At an impedance of 32 ohms and a sensitivity of 103dB, the EP35 can be adequately driven by a smartphone. I do not feel that they benefit noticeably from having more power on tap. I did not notice any hiss with the EP35.

    2018-10-03 05.13.48 1.jpg

    CLOSING WORDS

    The EP35 is a neutral gem if one takes the time to find the right eartips. It is comfortable, has great build quality, detachable cables, and a high-quality carry case. Highly recommended at this price. The EP35 can be purchased here.

    2018-10-03 05.13.41 2.jpg

    2018-10-03 05.13.54 1.jpg

    images

    1. 2018-10-03 05.13.41 1.jpg
    2. 2018-10-03 05.13.51 1.jpg
      jibberish likes this.
  4. Dsnuts
    NiceHCK EP35.. Unleash the potential!!
    Written by Dsnuts
    Published Sep 29, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Neutrally tuned, airy detailed treble, good tight accurate bass w decent sub bass. Cheap. So cheap they are great to experiment with your variety of tips and cables. These are tip and cable dependent.
    Cons - Stock cable and tips adds brightness to an already detailed signature. Adding upper treble glare and hearing fatigue. Weird oval nozzle shape. Cord noise worn down. Have to resort to other cables and tips.
    NiceHCK EP35.


    I would first like to thank a very nice guy and even nicer to the community Jim @ NiceHCK for forwarding the EP35 for review purposes. I have been using the EP35 almost exclusively for the past 3 weeks to get a good grasp of their sonics using various daps and amps I own. Please refer to my profile if you are curious to know what I use for a sources. NiceHCK is a premiere earphone dealer on Aliexpress for the past 3 years and they have a very strong reputation for being..NICE. If you have any questions regarding any purchases or any items of interest on their site. Feel free to message them and Jim is more than happy to answer any questions you have. Now to the earphone on hand.


    Aha fond memories, my experience with this particular design goes back to the Audio Technica ATH-CKM50. An earphone I helped discover on headfi about 7 years ago. I still own my pair and will take a listen on occasion. Since then I have moved onto more exotic offerings multi BA earphones with too many drivers to count, hybrids that have crazy configurations. But nothing like a great tuned single dynamic. It is tried and true and single dynamic earphones are alive and doing well. Case in point we have the EP35.

    DSC06431.JPG


    Specs:

    32Ohm

    103db/mW sensitivity

    20hz-20khz

    Single dynamic 13.5mm

    5 pairs of silicone tips

    Clam shell zip up case.


    They come in the standard NiceHCK package. Black clam shell zip up case. A few selection of silicone tips and the phones with a nice shiny SPC cable. These currently retail for $32.99 and can be bought here.. There is a special code for head fiers to get these for a special price of $23. Use the code head-fier choose other when checking out and NiceHCK will adjust the pricing for you. Then you buy. Nice gesture on Jim to give headfiers a deal on an already great priced earphone.

    DSC06432.JPG


    The earphones themselves are built well in their simplicity, I doubt anyone will actually break one of these pieces. Made of a light alloy metal for the housing, certainly looks like it will last. Unless your rough on the mmcx connector which does pose a possibility of fault. This design is not new but the sound is for the price point and I will get to that later. These come with a in house built SPC cable that while certainly looks nice on the earphones. I found I actually do not like on this earphone. Again I will get to this important choice of cable here later in the sound section.


    The accessories are standard for NiceHCK. Including a case is always a good choice. The included tips is standard silicone stuff and I didn’t find any of them to actually optimize the sound of the EP35. In fact I had to rely on my box of tips to come up with a tip to make these how I wanted them to sound. This is not necessarily a bad mark on the included accessories. I have earphones that cost 30X more from other manufacturers that are guilty of the exact same thing. Audio Technica for example are guilty of throwing in the exact same tips on every single earphone they produce. I have always ended up using another tip for an AT earphone.


    That is what you get for your $23. As a package the value is standard fare, not bad but to be expected I will say these earphones benefit greatly with a different cable and better tip selection.


    The build is actually good on these. Just because they are on the cheap don’t mean the build is. I do appreciate the fact that the cable can be replaced for other mmcx cables and even can run balanced or wireless as a result.
    The sound nozzle is a bit odd shaped however. Oval and not on straight. So I found out when tip rolling it is more selective on the tips more than most earphones. A definite con imo.

    DSC06433.JPG


    Now to the sound


    I remember the first time I heard them I was very surprised. I was expecting your standard V shaped bass boosted sound. But to my surprise these had a neutral tone and a cool airy sound to them. Airy neutral sound is not what I would associate with a $23 earphone. I proceeded to listen to them and came to the conclusion that these have a different tuning all together from what I thought would be done at this cost level.


    These have a decided neutral tuning, a clean clear sound with treble emphasis and extension I associate with much more expensive in ears. Unheard of at this price range? Yes. These have a very similar tuning to an earphone I reviewed in the Massdrop Mee Audio collab the PX. Even more similar to the Ecobox Finder X1. The Pinnacle P1 they are based had an MSRP of $200. So this is what I am talking about when I say this tuning is not common on something a 1/10th of the price.


    Do they have that level of sound? No but I was able to get fairly close using a much better cable and different tips and that told me these have more potential than what people will hear out of the box.


    The sound balancing has a slight tilt toward treble with greater emphasis in the upper treble vs lower. Due to the ample treble end also tilts toward brightness in tonality. I don’t mind me some energetic sound but it has to be done well for me to actually like it. Out of the box with stock cables these have an upper treble glare that lingers a bit too long for my liking. It can and does smear highlighted treble emphasis. The clarity of sound is evident throughout the mids and bass end with a gentle bass roll off that does a good job accenting bass notes to go along with the mids and treble.


    I want to say these sound more like a treble first iem so there for a rare r curve signature. Especially at this price point. The bass and mids are blended very well on these but any treble highlighted notes and you will most certainly hear it first. Meaning I found myself actually getting hearing fatigue with the stock configuration and stock tips on these earphones. Not good.


    Budget minded enthusiasts that want that full treble extension and want to hear every note in the treble with no hint of weakness or roll off. Your gonna get that with these.


    To be honest I actually prefer earphones with some treble emphasis vs a weak overly smoothed out treble that don’t do anything for the sound signature. I am more basshead than treble head but I can appreciate a well tuned neutral earphone with some energy.


    The real fault of this particular earphone is the glare in the upper treble area but at the same time you will hear every single treble note and emphasis without much struggle to hear them. Making them excellent for low volume listening. How to make them more balanced sounding.

    DSC06434.JPG



    These need a pure copper cable to bring on a bit of a thicker note and smooth out the treble a touch and that is exactly what a copper cable I am currently using on them does for the sound.


    These have a very close to neutral bass end to it, to bring out a bit more bass emphasis, a narrow bored tips helps to do this. This helps balance out the sound while reducing a touch of that treble glare.


    Ya I know. Blasphemy!!.Since when does anyone worth their salt report about modding an earphone and review it that way!.


    This is my review and not yours so I can and will get away with it.


    These are $23 earphone. In stock form I would give them a 3 star with better cable and tips they get a solid 4.5 easily. And this is the reason. Sure this ups the potential cost of these earphones. But like you need to be told to start tip rolling and using better cables.


    Earphone modding is about as natural as the 4 seasons. If your serious about your sound why would you not what your earphone to sound their absolute best is my point. I am only reporting what is possible. So deal with it.


    Dinking around with cables and tips on these earphones? Highly recommended!!


    Back to the sound.


    The mids are presented in crisp clean manner and sounds a touch on the lean cooler side of neutral in tone. I know there are plenty of neutral purists out there that prefer this type of mids so it will depend on how you like your sound . Imaging is surprising as high hat notes and larger roomy recorded material seem to pop out of your head. Again unheard of for a cheapo. Female vocals have slightly better presence vs male vocals. Due to the lower mids having less emphasis vs the upper mids toward treble. Instruments especially electric guitars have extra crunch to them. Sounds great for rock, metal, jazz. Anything with instruments actually. Music detail is some of the best I have heard at this price range and is similar in definition to the Finder X1.


    Guys like themselves some extra sparkle in the treble will love these things. You get that especially with the stock SPC cables.


    Sibilance for the most part is avoided but these are not so forgiving of brighter recorded tracks. It is difficult to listen to EDM in the stock configuration. With my cable and tips a slight tilt toward the bass end is added making them sound more balanced. As a result injecting some musicality to an otherwise a bright sound signature.

    DSC06435.JPG Sony MH1c tips.


    Mid bass has boost but we are talking 4 dbs. It is closer to how the Pinnacle P1 did bass vs the Finder X1. The mid bass is accurate tight and fast due to the less emphasized mid bass, sub bass has decent presence to 50 hz but seems to fall off from that point down. These are treble biased but not more than the other earphones I keep mentioning. To my ears they sound closer to the Finder X1 from the mids to treble and more closer to the P1 from bass down.


    Notice I am not comparing them to earphones that are at their actual price. To be honest I don’t know an earphone that sound like these at this price.


    Isolation is below average, probably due to the 4 vent holes in front with a relatively lighter build, they actually perform well outdoors with its ample detailing and clean sound. A strike against this design is that they emit cord noise due to the cord being straight down vs being worn over the ear which eliminates cord noise. These are made to be worn straight down so cord noise is inevitable. Head staging is surprisingly open sounding. Nothing confined or canned at all. Headstage is medium in width but due to proper venting they sound open/ airy. Depth is not as good as the width of sound but more than makes up for it with ample detail and good balancing.


    In the end they have a sound that is not common for this price and it was a big surprise to me to hear these and to say these are worth the money goes without saying. The price to hear and own these is tax money on cheaper mid fi stuff. Are they worth a boot?


    I am a man who likes to share my enthusiasm for earphones and headphones with fellow coworkers at my job. A particular friend gets to hear just about everything I bring to work. Which includes the IBasso IT01, IT04, All of NiceHCK stuff HK6 NK10 and DZ12 just to name a few. I had him listen to the EP35 with my tip and cable of course.


    I asked him how much he thought they cost. “$150!?” The look on his face when I told him $23.

    The drivers have some serious potential is all I can say. It will be up to you to figure this one out.
    1. harry501501
      Ep35 is a guilty pleasure of mine. I absolutely love the build. They sound best with a decent balanced cable
      harry501501, Jan 2, 2019
      Otto Motor likes this.
  5. Otto Motor
    NiceHCK EP35 - The Different Beast
    Written by Otto Motor
    Published Sep 21, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Airy presentation with surprisingly intimate and natural vocals (not the typical V-shape of this price range); accurate soundstage; detachable high quality cable (rare for a single DD) and high-quality case; very classy looks and feel.
    Cons - Sound can get congested when instrumentation is busy; bass may be not beefy enough for some; the presentation is a bit polite and may deserve more dynamic expression; the short, angled nozzles may provide fit issues for some.

    You also find this review and much more on my blog audioreviews.org



    Executive Summary

    A relatively neutral sounding dynamic driver (DD) earphone with a lean and airy presentation and a good bass extension, of great build with a detachable quality MMCX cable and with the best case around included…and hit-and-miss ergonomics.

    First image.jpg

    Disclaimer

    Jim NiceHCK speculated I would love he EP35 and I agreed to take him on via this review. The main reason I did this is because the iem’s elegant looks were appealing to me and because of the generally positive impressions of NiceHCK products found here on Head-Fi. I purchased the EP35 for $0.10. There was no financial incentive other than another iem added to my rather congested collection of >130 (I look forward to the day when I will review a $4000 earphone I can keep while claiming there was no financial incentive involved). And whereas most reviewers claim to have been asked to write an honest review, strangely enough nobody has ever asked me anything. Good, because “honest” is a stretchable term. This earphone is presently being prepared to be given to charity to avoid conflict of interest (I have yet to find a communal service to put it to good use).


    Introduction

    The NiceHCK EP35 is a single 13.5 mm DD earphone, a rare beast in its price category, sandwiched between 3 and 4 driver hybrids. Jim from NiceHCK Audiostore claims the EP35 shares its DD with the more expensive and almost identical looking Onkyo E700M – a statement I cannot confirm but the published specs of the two do not match. I was told, because of its “resemblance” to this Onkyo product, the EP35 is a hot seller in Japan. Considering the polite sound of the EP35 (we will learn about in the following), I am not surprised. The EP35 is also special as it has detachable cables (with MMCX connectors) which competing single DDs in the sub-$40 range don’t offer. It holds on to the DD technology which is also still embraced by major companies such as Sennheiser (e.g. IE800S) or JVC (e.g. FD01).


    Specifications

    • Product Name: NiceHCK EP35 in-ear earphone metal earphone
    • Brand: NiceEHCK
    • Model: EP35
    • Price: $32.99 (at the time of this review)
    • Color: Black
    • Type: In-ear
    • Impedance: 32Ω±15% Ω
    • Sensitivity: 103db/mW
    • Frequency Range: 40-40000Hz
    • Earphone Plug: 3.5mm plug
    • Cable Material: Silver plated
    • Cable Length: 1.2m±5cm
    • Earphone Plug Type: Line type
    • Connector Type: MMCX
    • Drive Unit: Single 13.5mm dynamic drive unit
    • Product Link: HERE!
    Accessoires.jpg
    Click to enlarge.

    Packaging and Accessories

    The brown cardboard box contains a sturdy, NiceHCK-branded high-quality case that hosts the earphone and accessories: cable, three pairs of narrow-bore tips (S/M/L) and another two pairs of wide-bore tips (S/M)…I speculate a third L pair was missing. These tips appear unusually small to me and you may need a third party pair to achieve a good seal.


    Physical Appearance, Haptic, and Build

    The earpieces are mainly made of metal, only the inner faceplate with the attached nozzle is made of plastic. The nozzle is angled and rather short and has an unusual elliptical cross section which does not appear to cause problems for the eartips. The pearly-white helix-type braided cable is sturdy and has no remote and microphone. The MMCX connectors and the 3.5 mm plug are made of the same metal as the housings and are colour matched. In summary, the build of both housings and cables is as impressive as it can get and much superior over many much more expensive iems such as my $399 (list price) UE900S.

    without cable.jpg
    Click to enlarge.

    Ergonomics, Comfort, Fit, Eartips, and Isolation

    I have to admit that my large German-made ears were and sometimes are still struggling with this kind of form factor: a short, angled nozzle as also seen on the Xiaomi HD Pro or the Phiaton PS 210 BTNC. I could not get a seal with the included tips and initially never had the feeling I got the earpieces deep enough into my ear canals, which turned out not to be true. After triple-flange tips had also failed to produce a seal and foams had removed too much life from the sound, I succeeded with extra-wide rubber tips. This technically works but feels rather unusual. I sometimes still get the desire to shove the earpieces deeper down which is hampered by the large round inner faceplate. Isolation is therefore average.


    Source

    I used the iPhone 5S with and without audioquest dragonfly dac/amp. The EP35 can be driven well with a phone but they require more juice than, let’s say, the KZ AS10.

    EP35.jpg
    Click to enlarge.


    Tonality

    When it comes to sound, the EP35 does NOT offer the classic V-shape with a boomy bass, buried mids and emphasized treble. No, you would never know it sported a 13.5 mm DD driver but rather a BA as its tonality goes very much towards neutral.

    The bass is a bit of an understatement: minimal, very focused with a reasonably fast attack, and it is unexpectedly well extended into the sub-bass…yes, there is rumble at the very low end. Some wished the bass had a bit more impact, particularly the crowd that is taping off the bass vents on the Tinaudio T2. I speculate that bass mileage varies with ear shape and how the bass vents are covered.

    Voices in the midrange are surprisingly intimate and certainly not recessed, naturally reproduced with a nice clarity, and there is a great sense of space. The treble is not piercing and clear but could deserve a bit more sheen. I noticed no sibilance.

    Soundstage is astonishingly accurate and big as in real life, layering and resolution are very good but separation lacks a tad in comparison. This apparent contradiction translates to scenarios where sparsely instrumented tracks give you a great, realistic image but a busy instrumentation causes congestion particularly in the upper midrange, where your ears sometimes perceive a gooey wall of sound. At higher volumes, this congestion can be accompanied by harshness. But hey, this is a $30 earphone and it does most things much better than expected.

    Overall, the sound is lean and some would like it a bit fuller bodied. What I would appreciate was a bit more of a dynamic expression (“punch”). The EP35 are very polite and certainly more for the classic and jazz crowd than for the grunge fan. And they work best at low to medium volumes.


    Select Comparisons
    (all are single DDs with the exception of the single BA Brainwavz B100…and they are all very enjoyable)

    Hifi Walker A1, unmodded ($50): warmer sounding, more punch, and, a rather boomy bass and more to over-emphasized treble indicative of a V-shaped frequency response curve.

    Tinaudio T1 (~38): somewhat warmer with a beefier bass and a less airy presentation. The resolution of the EP35 is a tinge better and so is its soundstage and overall clarity. Also superior are the solid metal cable connectors vs. the T1’s flimsy strain reliefs. The T1’s sound is fuller bodied, more enclosed, and it is much easier to drive.

    Tinaudio T2 (~$50): its overall tonality is very similar to the EP35 but slightly more analytical with superior resolution and separation, more intimate vocals and better treble extension. The EP35 has the more focused and leaner bass (the way my ears seal the bass vents). Current archetype of a neutral tonality in the low-price segment.

    Fostex TE-02 ($35-70; discontinued): is even more neutral sounding than the EP35 and T2 which may appear boring and sterile to some. Still the reference for a neutral tonality in the low-price segment (although not too many know it) but sadly discontinued. Is its own breed and hard to compare.

    EP35 and TE02.jpg
    Frequency responses TE-02 and EP35. Click to enlarge.

    Fidue A65 (~$60): has a much darker, warm and fuzzy tonality and an unparalleled resolution and separation, and a more prominent bass. Also beats the whole lot listed here in terms of natural voice reproduction. Needs similar power levels to be driven as the EP35 and is similarly polite.

    Brainswavz B100 (~$50): a single BA leading the low-price segment in the category of “fluid and homogenous” presentation. Also sports a very focused however more authoritative bass and a similar vocals reproduction. Super fit as small and with over-ear cable but questionable build in comparison to the EP35.

    EP35 and B100.jpg
    Frequency responses B100 and EP35. Click to enlarge.


    Concluding Remarks

    NiceHCK earphones have never disappointed, always been interesting and of great value - and the EP35 continues this trend. The EP35 entices by its looks and feel - and by its sound that is unusual for a single DD at this price. Build and (detachable) cables are stellar and the included case is the sturdiest around. Sound wise it goes strongly towards neutral with a nice and airy presentation that could be a bit less polite. Bassheads and metalheads will stay away from it but audiophiles will be delighted, despite some tonal shortcomings. In summary, the EP35 constitutes an overall great and interesting package alike.

    You can buy this earphone exclusively at the NiceHCK Audio Store: HERE!

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    Click to enlarge.

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