NiceHCK X49 - Reviews
What of this affordable bullet?
Pros: Affordable
All-in-one
Ease of use
Quite nice sounding considering price
Throw-it-in-your-bag for use when you forget others
Cons: Connected cable
No case
Finite lifetime
Not much else at this price
NiceHCK X49 ($17): What of this affordable bullet?

HiFiGo:
NiceHCK X49



Intro: There seems to be a dearth of “affordable” ChiFi hitting the shores of the US at the current time, slowed only by the global pandemic. Many worthy companies have set up shop on this side of the pond, in hopes of achieving faster response to sales, as well as the ability to control products here. It makes sense. Kind of like a car dealer in many towns across the country. Aiming for sales, this is indeed a tough market. HiFiGo is a “relative newcomer” making marks with excellent distributional characteristics on the US mainland and elsewhere. Catering to the more affordable end, Nappoler and crew are doing an excellent job. With first-rate customer service, they are becoming a force.

The X49 is the second unit I have reviewed for HiFiGo, after the TRN VX, and as such I was looking forward to the single balanced armature, not the least of which was to see how a single BA would compare to the more common single DD. And, this little critter certainly is on the affordable end, at sub-$20usd. Coming off the VE Erlkönig, and others, my opinion would have to be tempered to meet that level. That is, until I listened. To say that I was a bit taken aback would be an excellent descriptor. In conversing with a couple of other reviewers, we agreed that the X49 was an affordable diamond in the mostly polished form. Small, affordable (there’s that word again), tiny of fit, and very good sound qualities highlight the X49. I thank Nappoler for sending the review unit, and I write this as our daughter partakes in a week-long high intensity goalie camp. To say I’m in heaven would be an excellent picture.


Specs:

1. Brand and model: NICEHCK X49 in ear earphone
2. Model: X49
3. Product type: In ear
4. Frequency: 20-20000Hz
5. Impedance: 22Ω
6. Cable material: Pure copper
7. Cable length: 1.2m±3cm
8. Plug type: 3.5mm gold plated
9. Color: Bright Silver
10. Sensitivity: 110dB/mW
11. Shell Material: Pure Copper (Surface Plating)
12. Microphone: Options (No Mic / With Mic )
13.Use: Sleep, Music, Game, TV Series
14.Earphone plug type: Line type
15.Earphones category: HIFI, Monitor
16. Driver unit: Single Balanced Armature Driver


Compared/Sources:

TRN VX ($75)
CVJ CSA ($27)


Shanling M0
iPhone XS Max (w/DDHiFi TC35i dongle)
MacBook Pro (Tidal Premium)


Songs used:

Dave Mathews albums, Come Tomorrow, Away From The World
Los Lonely Boys- Heaven (en Espanol)
Los Lobos album, Disconnected In New York City
twenty one pilots-Trees
twenty one pilots-Car Radio
twenty one pilots-Heathens
twenty one pilots-Forest
Damian Marley-Everybody Wants To Be Somebody
Damian Marley-So A Child May Follow
Damian Marley-The Struggle Discontinues
Ziggy Marley-Lighthouse
Ziggy Marely-See Dem Fake Leaders
Mark Knopfler-Laughs And Jokes And Drinks And Smokes
Santana w/ Mana- Corazon Espinado
twenty one pilots album, Trench
Mark Knopfler album, Down The Road Wherever



Unboxing:

Simple. Straightforward. Nothing special. Nothing left behind. I like when IEM's such as these come in simple packaging, which minimizes their impact. Nicely done.


Fit-n-Finish:

Coming with a rubber coated all-copper cable, which is attached you get the sense that the money spent goes into the balanced armature and electroplating of the all-copper bullet-shaped shell. Permanently attached, I do not fault NiceHCK since this is a unit, which will most likely be used in “throw in the bag” situations. The cable is on the thinner side and does carry microphonics with it. But, using the right tip, there is a very good seal, which keeps wind and other noise (such as the pecking on my MBP keyboard, which I hate. The keyboard not the MBP) to a minimum. Other than the microphonics, I have no issue with the thin cable. It also has a rubberized ring attached to the left cable above the split for easy identification in less than ideal viewing conditions.

The shell itself comes from two pieces of electroplated copper, replete with vent hole on the bottom. Inside the BA sits in a protective hard plastic bracket. I do like the shape of this unit, and it is tastefully small. Reminding me of the Campfire Atlas or Comet, the shape does not bother me one bit, and actually aids in the fit. Nicely done so far. A small assortment of tips is included. I skipped those and went right for my SendaFit Azla or Comply foam. I settled on the Comply for a better fit and seal.



Sound:

As per standard, the unit was checked upon arrival to ensure proper working order, then banished for burn-in with any of a number of units I have going at the moment. Periodic checking was done at 25 hrs, 50hrs, and 75hrs. It was after 75hrs that the dedicated listening took place. I do prefer to burn a unit in for a lengthy time to give the user an idea of what the critter sounds like six months down the road from new. With the X49, the bass tightened up a bit, but without dedicated listening at the beginning, I cannot say for sure regarding any other changes. Suffice to say that the signature did not change for me in any remarkable manner.

Balanced Armature drivers are still typically not known for their thumping bass, and the X49 continues that, but with one exception. It does provide good reach, but not outstanding. It does seem to be more than the derigueur of recent ChFi tunings, which are tending towards brighter signatures. I always hate to say anything “punches above their weight,” for this can mean that it is A: underpriced, or B: the others really are not that good. I will state that for this price, the bass is very, very good and could be considered at the top of its class. That to me is a better compliment, anyway. Paired with the portable Shanling M0, the sound comes across as full and a bit of warmness emanates. The bass of Shanling’s is already tops for me, and the X49 compliments that without hindering the M0 response.

Mids are to me fairly neutral, with vocal sound emanating slightly above center and just about in line with the others. I would not call it flat, nor would I call it V-shape. Not even W-shaped. To me they could be a bit brighter and more forward, but this is picking on a sub-$20 earbud...Male vocals are on the cleaner side, but not spectacular. Female voices follow suit, but with a bit more focus. Not extraordinary, but not sloppy either.

Thankfully, the treble up top is not biting nor sibilant as can be the case at this price. Coming across as complimentary to the others, I appreciate that this isn’t an affordable earbud, which has treble too bright. There has been talk across the review waves of what Westerners actually want in a tune, and I for one do not think that the manufacturer should cater to a particular market, but rather give the sound, which their engineers feel will be pleasant and sellable. If that does not meet your tastes, move on. Don’t bag on a manufacturer for tuning something you don’t like. Rather you should espouse whom it might be better tuned for and call it good. We must keep our subjectivity at a minimum and present what we hear, then recommend. Those of you who read many reviews will know of what I speak. For those that might be in a bit of a fog, essentially as reviewers we must present what we hear, and let others know whom the unit might be geared towards. Likes and dislikes come into play then, but shant be the basis for recommending or not. It is not our job to point out that “this should be tuned for a specific market,” no but rather whom it might be tuned for instead.

Rant over.



Providing an averagely wide soundstage, the X49 competes well in giving a full sound spectrum. Adequate in height, but lacking in depth, there is no cathedral effect, but rather one of efficient use of space. Layering & instrumentation thus suffers a bit, but it is not bad. Sufficient for the price, and again, near or at the top of the price range. Paired again with the M0, the sound comes across as clean and representative. Competent would be a good description all across the board. Call it the workhorse of this price. The one that does the dirty work without asking for anything in return.


Comparisons:

This shall be a shorter section, since the price is so darn affordable.

NiceHCK X49 ($17) vs TRN VX ($75):

I add this in, because it is a recent unit for me, and one in which there seems to be a conundrum of opinion. Some like the tuning, others do not. I would fall in the category of the later, with nothing spectacular about the 7-BA’s. It is a shame really, for it has high hopes, but has a mid-section, which is too biting to me. I cannot get around this. And as I stated above, I would recommend this unit for those who like vocal representation, or string orchestral movements. That enhanced mid-section would be presented very well with the VX. But, if I heard both of these side by side in a store, I’d go home with the X49. Period.


NiceHCK X49 ($17) vs CVJ CSA ($27):

Another of recent review, the CSA is the affordable unit from CVJ, which has approximately 5-6 offerings. If one likes bright mids, but not overly bright then the CSA should be in consideration. Good solid bass, a somewhat sparkly treble section, and mids that take the show for me highlight an affordable contender. The CSA won’t win many followers but should still be considered for its stellar mid presentation. A very good price point, and one that you should consider for vocal temptations. Personally though, I still prefer the X49 for its affordability and overall sound character.


Finale:

I finish this while listening to the X49 through my iPhone XS Max & DDHiFi TC35i dongle. An excellent little DAC paired with a decent sounding phone. The trifecta of sound comes across as warmer than the Shanling, but I blame Tidal. This shows the true mettle of the X49. It is adaptable, and fits will many excellent affordable sources (OK, iPhone isn’t cheap...). But the point still holds. The X49 benefits from being a set of earbuds that can be thrown in your bag or pocket for on the go use, and that balanced armature sound comes across nicely. This should alone put the X49 into consideration. It should also be considered as part of your regular rotation system as it can ground you in how an affordable earbud can still sound good regardless of the price.

I thank Nappoler and HiFiGo for the sample. The NiceHCK X49 is a real treat at an exceptionally affordable price. I can live with its few faults, due to the many positives within the unit. Cheers, and keep listening.

NiceHCK X49: An Armature For The Masses
Pros: Build and comfort - Well-rounded tune - Affordable
Cons: Sound stage - Congestion at high volumes and during very busy tracks
Greetings!

Today we're checking out a budget friendly single armature earphone from retailer turned earphone manufacturer, the NiceHCK X49.

I've been a fan of NiceHCK from the early days, well before retailers like them, Penon Audio, and LendMeUrEars started developing and selling their own products. It was a little odd to see them head in this direction, but using a small amount of brain juice and foresight could see that it made sense. Chinese HiFi was taking off and they were sales leaders. Why not make and pitch their own products to steal some sales away? NiceHCK has done a good job with their products to date with models like the DB3, NX7, and various accessories being generally well-received within the community.

I've spent way more time with the X49 over the last few months then most reviewers will in their lifetime, and I'm no less of a fan of it now than I was during the honeymoon period. Let's take a closer look at why, shall we?

P1013247.JPG

What I Hear Single armature earphones have their limitations, and the X49 is no exception. HOWEVER, done right they can provide a very satisfying listening experience. I'd say the X49 comfortably achieves that.

Treble out of the X49 has a lower region bias with small raise in the brilliance region that keeps it from lacking any sense of sparkle or air between notes. Detail and clarity is quite good, though there is a hint of splashiness present, as well as some grittiness that keeps it from sounding particularly smooth or refined. Notes attack and decay quickly, as is typical of armatures. Despite this, and I think down to the light splashiness, the X49 can get overwhelmed on busy tracks or at high volumes leaving the treble region in particular uncomposed.

The mids are more typical of an armature-based earphone; forward, clear, full of detail and very coherent. Timbre is actually quite nice as well, despite some dryness and a bit of a metallic edge that creeps in at times. Both male and female vocals are well represented with neither sounding more prominent than the other. The subtle warmth provided by the X49's midbass does lend itself to benefits female vocalists though, given them a sweetness that male vocalists lack.

Bass on the X49 is not going to win over those that want to be swept away in a sea of long, lush waves of noise. It is quite reserved. Still boosted above neutral, but not by a whole lot. Anyone coming from dynamic driver equipped earphones will probably find the X49 lacking until they acclimate to the sound. Once done, however, they will be rewarded with good extension, plenty of speed and texture, and just a generally well controlled, pleasant low end that can handle some satisfying genre variability.

Unfortunately, the X49's sound stage is quite small. Well-rounded, sure, but not particularly spacious. As a result music feels closed in and personal with vocalists giving you and you alone a show. I like how the X49 images, with sounds moving confidently around their 'Genie's Lamp' sized space. Instrument separation and layering is also solid, until of course you start throwing anything particularly complicated at the X49. When that happens, it starts to lose composure and congestion settles in. The same thing happens at high volumes, revealing this single armature's single greatest weakness. Keep the volume at reasonable levels and avoid 110 piece orchestras and everything will be alright.

Overall I find the X49 to be a well-tuned earphone little earphone with nice mids, solid bass, and good treble detail. I'd really like a larger sound stage and a bit more control in the upper regions, but there's nothing going on that I'd say so crippling to make it unusable. It's a great sounding product that isn't absent of flaws. Not to be unexpected given the very low price.

P1013246.JPG

Compared To A Peer (volumes matched with Dayton iMM-6)

Moondrop SSR (39.99 USD): I typically try not to compare with products that completely outclass what I'm reviewing, or that it completely outclasses. The SSR is, in my honest opinion, one of the most underappreciated and underrated products of 2020. That I decided to compare the X49 to it should give you an idea of just how capable I think NiceHCK's release is.

Starting with treble, neither is particularly energetic in the brilliance region. That said, the X49 has more emphasis there giving it a hint of additional sparkle, though this comes at the expense of some splashiness not heard in the SSR. It sound less refined, especially on light of how much smoother the SSR's presentation is top to bottom. Speed oddly feels about on par despite the X49 being equipped with an armature vs. the SSR's tiny dynamic. Notes attack and decay rapidly through each. I suspect this comes down to Moondrop's beryllium coating that acts to stiffen and speed things up for the SSR. Detail and texture is also about on par with the X49's more raw sound resulting in a more edgy, gritty presentation. I personally enjoy both and revel in this very specific difference to how they sound since they end up being very much complimentary. The prominence of v-shaped signatures in our hobby seems to have resulted in a slew of listeners allergic to forward mids, and that's a shame because both of these products have a gorgeous midrange. The SSR's is silky smooth and rife with detail backed by just the right amount of warmth to benefit artists of all genders. The X49 feels just as forward and gender neutral in it's presentation, but sprinkles in a hint of dryness that I find relatively common to full-range balanced armatures. Again, this nigh raspiness the X49 adds to vocals is a wonderful compliment to the SSR's refinement. Bass on both is politely elevated with the SSR having the edge on sub-bass extension, mid-bass impact, and overall visceral feedback. Texturing is good on both, though the X49 has an edge. Again, speed is about the same with both showing rapidity in their attack and decay qualities. That said, I find the SSR to handle rapid bass with greater ease. As tracks get more and more busy, or you increase the volume, the limitations of the X49's single full-range armature begins to show. It doesn't help that is has a much more intimate presentation than the SSR with a very compact sound stage that doesn't leave music nearly as much room to play around in. This is my only major qualm with the X49 and what holds it back from greatness. Still, pending you're playing within it's limitations, imaging is quite nuanced, instruments are well-separated and tracks decently well layered. Toss on something busy or crank the volume and the X49 loses composure in places the SSR has no issues. Overall I prefer the SSR, but the X49 isn't too far off and provides nearly as an enjoyable a listen.

EarNiNE EN120 (79.00 USD): The EN120 is getting up there in age at this point, but given it has a chromed metal housing surrounding a single balanced armature with a fixed cable, these two had to be compared. The treble presentation between these two is very similar with a lower treble bias and small upper treble peak to give off some sparkle. I'd say the EN120 is slightly more linear though, giving the two regions a more even emphasis. While both offer pretty great detail and clarity, the EarNiNE's in-house developed drivers are hard to beat. The X49 falls just short in that regard as a result and it feels like an all-rounder vs. the EN120 which is more neutral and analytic. Mids are again similarly emphasized. Once again, however, EarNiNE's drivers shine. They have a very unique sound to them most notable in the mids that gives the presentation a dry, crispy feel to it. This means that the EN120 isn't as accurate when it comes to timbre, even if it is a lot more interesting to listen to. Therefore, as much as I adore the midrange of EarNiNE products, it's not technically accurate so the X49 gets the edge. The additional warmth added in by the midbass presentation of the X49 also helps with this. The EN120 has a near-neutral low end. Compared to the X49, and most other products for that matter, it comes across a little anemic. It's got the speed and texture to match the X49, it just lacks the emphasis which hinders it's suitability across genres. While the X49 has a very compact sound stage, the EN120's is even smaller given off a complete in-the-head listening experience. This quality fits with it's somewhat analytic presentation, but it also means it's even more difficult than on the X49 to properly immerse yourself in your music. I still love the EN120 and the unique qualities of EarNiNE's drivers, but the X49 is the better product. It's larger sound stage and more versatile tune leaving me wanting when I switch from the X49 to the EN120, something that doesn't really happen when going from the EN120 to the X49.

IMGP4844.JPG

In The Ear Similar in design to Final's E-Series of dynamic earphones, the X49 utilizes very compact, lightweight, bullet-shaped housings that work equally well with the cable wrapped up and around the ear, or hanging down in a more traditional manner. Outside of some mild tapering on the rear of each housing as well as the and model info laser etched into the metal, there isn't much to to speak of here. Fit and finish is excellent with tight seams and neatly installed metal grills. The fixed cable enters into the bottom rear of each housing, protected by a stubby rubber relief that also advises which channel is which thanks to raised L and R lettering. A rubber o-ring wrapped around the left cable is also used to more quickly denote the left channel.

The cable is a very basic black, rubber-sheathed affair. There is a hint of stickiness that catches on skin, but slides smoothly enough over clothing so as not be an issue. It doesn't retain memory of bends or kinks, but it does transmit a fair bit of noise up and into the ear whenever the cable bumps around. Wearing the X49 with the cable wrapped around the ear works to mitigate this. The hardware used is also very basic but perfectly serviceable. The straight jack is absolutely tiny with a somewhat short and stiff relief. It's not great, but it gets the job done. The same could be said about the compact rubber y-split. Unfortunately there is no relief entering or existing the split, so expect that to be a failure point. They also omitted a chin cinch which would have been a welcome addition to help deal with the microphonics.

Comfort is outstanding. Since the X49 is so small and light, it almost entirely disappears when being worn. This is especially true when wearing it cable-up since what little weight there is ends up being dispersed more evenly around the ear. Isolation is also well above average despite the housing being ventilated. Even with the stock tips, walking along a busy street I can listen at my usual low volumes without having to pump it up to compensate for noise bleeding in.

P1013241.JPGP1013243.JPGIMGP4834.JPG

In The Box The X49 arrives in a very unassuming white box covered in a white sheath, NiceHCK printed on the front. Flip to the back to find some basic specifications and model information, with no real flourishes to draw the eye. If you like minimal packaging, this is it. Sliding off the sheath reveals the X49 nestled tightly into a white cardboard covered foam insert, the fixed cable neatly wrapped and tucked under a cardboard insert alongside the accessories. In all you get:
  • X49 earphones
  • Single flange tips (s/m/l)
  • Velcro cable tie
  • Shirt clip
  • Manual
If you are one of those who are offended by a company that puts time and effort into crafting a memorable unboxing experience, you'll be right at home here. This is about as simple and basic as it gets. It wastes none of your precious time and enables you to access the X49 immediately. The included tips are the same generic set you get with numerous other products, and they work very well with an earphone of this style. I had no issues using the pre-installed mediums for the majority of my listening time.

Final Thoughts This is my favourite product from the brand to date. The compact shell is comfortable and attractive with a good cable handling music transmission. Sure, it would be great if it were removable, but it's not so we can be happy that they used a quality wire, even if it looks pretty darn vanilla.

The X49 doesn't disappoint on the sound front either, with a versatile, capable tune that sounds excellent with a wide variety of musical genres. Where it falls short is in the sound stage which is very compact leading to congestion at high volumes or on particularly busy tracks. Listen at reasonable volumes and avoid crazy busy music and you'll be fine.

Overall a very nice product. If you're curious about balanced armatures and want to try them out without spending a ton, this is a fantastic example of the breed and well worth your time.

Thanks for reading!

- B9

Disclaimer A huge thanks to Nappoler with HiFiGo for sending over a sample of the X49 for review. The thoughts within this review are my own subjective opinions and do not represent NiceHCK, HiFiGo, or any other entity. At the time of writing the X49 was on sale for 16.99 USD, down from 42.48 USD: https://hifigo.com/products/nicehck-x49-single-ba-balanced-armature-driver-mini-earphone

Specifications
  • Frequency Response: 20-20KHz
  • Impedance: 22ohms
  • Sensitivity: 110dB/mW
  • Driver: Single balanced armature
Gear Used For Testing LG Q70, FiiO M3 Pro, FiiO BTR3K, Earstudio HUD100, Earmen TR-Amp, Asus FX53V, TEAC HA-501

Some Test Tunes

Supertramp – Crime of the Century
Slipknot – Vol 3 (The Subliminal Verses)
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid
King Crimson – Lark's Tongues in Aspic
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black
Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma
The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy
Steely Dan – The Royal Scam
Porcupine Tree – Stupid Dreams
Fleetwood Mac – Rumors
Tobacco – F****d Up Friends

Attachments

NiceHCK X49 Review – Fukubukuro 福袋 2020
Pros: Surprisingly good tonal accuracy; superb low end.
Cons: Small headroom through low soundstage (typical for cylindrical budget earphones); 3.5 kHz peak may be not for everybody.
NiceHCK X49


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The NiceHCK X49 is a bright-neutral earphone with a wide but low soundstage, however a decent tonality – a rare find in this class. Great for people who want to experience a more neutral tonality at a small cost.


This review was originally published at www.audioreviews.org


INTRODUCTION

Fukubukuro (福袋) is Japanese and means lucky bag. It stands for a Japanese New Year custom in which merchants make grab bags filled with unknown random contents and sell them for a substantial discount. NiceHCK have adapted this tradition for the Chinese new year – and their 福袋 attracts curious buyers who hope for a positive surprise in their lucky bag. I am sure the company has sold tons of these NiceHCK X49 on spec. The question is: are the X49 as good as claimed by the company, according to which 20 audiophiles had been selected as testers – who in turn climbed the X49 are as good as a $70 earphone. Well, we find out in the following.


SPECIFICATIONS

Drivers: single balanced armature
Impedance: 22 Ω
Sensitivity: 110dB/mW
Frequency Range: 20 – 20,000 Hz
Cable: fixed
Tested at: $17
Purchase Link: NiceHCK Store


PHYSICAL THINGS AND USABILITY

The box contains the bare minimum: the earphones with a velcro band, 3 sets of tips, a shirt clip, and the paperwork. The cable is not detachable and the left strand is marked by a little slider (visible at the centre left top of the photo). The cylindrical shells are made of metal and the haptic is quite good. Comfort, isolation, and seal are standard for this shape. The largest tips worked for me. Considering the low price, I assumed the NiceHCK X49 are meant to work with a plain phone – I used them with my iPhone SE (2016).

NiceHCK X49



TONALITY AND TECHNICALITIES

My tonal preference and testing practice


My test tracks explained

The tonality of the NiceHCK X49 is neutral- bright.

I did not expect wonders of the sound but was kind of surprised who well the low end performed. It is realistic in that it does not over-extend into the sub-bass (in fact the extension is probably below average compared to its peers), it is articulate and tight….reminiscent of the JVC HA-FDX1, one of my all time favourites. Typical BA driver with not too much extension. So, not for bass lovers however for, hmmm, audiophiles…although audiophiles are people with deep pockets who listen to gear and not to music…ok, the X49 are for people who love music, then. To me, the low end is more linear and flatter than shown on the graph…either my measurements are inaccurate or that 3.5 kHz balances the low end (the human ear hears the whole frequency spectrum in context).

The lower midrange/vocals department is slightly recessed but voices appear to be well sculptured. They are not the richest and appear a bit breathy or nasal at times, but that’s still acceptable. It is that 3.5 kHz peak that attenuates them a bit. The vocals department could do with a bit more body. That 3.5 kHz upper midrange peak can make things a bit harsh at higher volumes – however it adds clarity to the midrange. Both midrange and bass are on the bright neutral side. There is a distinct rolloff in the uppermost midrange and brilliance area and a climb in the lower treble. Cymbals can be a bit splashy.

Treble appears well extended and the high notes resolve reasonably well but cymbals can be a bit splashy.

Stage is reasonably wide, not very deep, and not the tallest. Spatial cues is good. The stage is exactly what you expect from the shape of the shells. Staging (instrument separation/placement and layering) was again surprisingly good. Dynamics is another particularity of this earphone: the punch sounds a bit analog as if the music came from a record player. Timbre/tonal accuracy is another positive surprise but things can get a bit harsh at higher volumes – as mentioned before. This is an earphone for moderate volumes.

NiceHCK X49


NiceHCK X49 Review - Fukubukuro 福袋 2020 1



NiceHCK X49 COMPARED

You find reviews of all of the iems mentioned below here.

Difficult task. Even the $23 KBEAR KS2 is 50% more expensive – and totally different: comparatively bassy and V-shaped. And any vintage <$20 earphone such as the Urbanfun Hifi or Einsear T2 are also V-shaped with a boomy bass. It will be tough to find such a clean tonality in this price range.


NiceHCK X49



CONCLUDING REMARKS

NiceHCK attempted to offer an audiophile-tuned earphone at a very low price – and they succeeded imo. Anything neutral sounding below $50 is a rarity, and the NiceHCK X49 are cheap enough to act as a stocking stuffer…for yourself. Having enough of V-shaped? Try this one and see whether (diffuse-field) neutral is right for you.

Until next time…keep on listening!

Jürgen Kraus signature


You find an INDEX of all our earphone reviews HERE.


DISCLAIMER


The X49 were sent to me unsolicited by Jim NiceHCK and I think him for that.

Get the NiceHCK X49 from the NiceHCK Store

Our generic standard disclaimer.

About my measurements.

You find an INDEX of our most relevant technical articles HERE.
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Pros: Size, weight, comfort and ergonomics.
- Warm, neutral and mid-centric sound.
- Price.
Cons: Fixed cable with a tendency to take shape.
Microphonics.
Absence of box/bag.
Limited sub-bass and not very present treble.
Introduction

NiceHCK is an AlieExpress store, which has been selling its own headphones for a long time. This time, on the occasion of a lucky bag, they brought out a mysterious IEM Single BA, at a very low price. Possibly one of the riskiest configurations, more, in this price range. This is due to the limitations that a small BA driver has, both in the lower and upper zone. Even so, they have dared to make a small cylindrical type headset with a fixed cable. Let's see what these amazing IEMS have to offer.

NiceHCK X49 01_resize.jpgNiceHCK X49 02_resize.jpg

Specifications

  • Type of Drivers: Single BA Full Range.
  • Frequency Response: 20-20kHz
  • Sensitivity: 110dB/mw
  • Impedance: 22Ω
  • Jack connector: 3.5mm gold-plated
  • Cable length: 1.2m±3cm

NiceHCK X49 03_resize.jpgNiceHCK X49 04_resize.jpg

Packaging

The X49 comes in a thin white box, 137x92x27mm. On the front face, in the center, the brand logo, their name, written in silver holographic ink. Same content on the left side. On the right side, the chosen model (mic, not mic). On the back, below, the model name, specifications, bar code and address of the headquarters. After removing the cardboard cover, the IEMS are embedded, in a white foam mould. In the lower half, there is a cardboard cover with the logo, which, after removal, you can see the rest of the cable and accessories. In short:

  • The IEMS with their cable and a plastic protector for the connector.
  • 3 pairs of grey silicone tips, size SxMxL.
  • Velcro tape to collect the cable.
  • Clothing clip.
  • Instruction booklet/guarantee.

The presentation is minimal, not even a protective bag comes, whose price is ridiculous. The price, at the time of the review, is around 13 euros. Actually, it is a very low price, but keeping the IEMS is always necessary. At least, the velcro strip and the connector protector are welcome, a piece that, on the other hand, tends to get lost easily.

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Construction and Design

The X49 has the classic cylindrical design. Its diameter is 7mm, the total length is 17.55mm. The nozzle is approximately 4mm long. At its base, the diameter is 4.7mm and at its outermost part 5.7mm. The hole of the nozzle is protected by a thick metal grid. The whole body is metallic, bright silver in colour. The back of the capsule has a cover with two semi-hexagonal notches, in the centre of which the model name is engraved. Very close to this back, on the lower side, is the plastic cable. The black plastic piece, which serves as protection for the cable to be attached to the capsule, forms a 110, 120 degree angle to its base. The letter identifying the IEMS channel can be read on the cover. Near the cable coupling, at the bottom of the cylinder, there is a small hole. The rest of the cable is also black, covered with rubber, and is slightly thicker than 2mm. In the cable of the left channel, there is a ring, mobile, of the same color and material, which allows to identify the channel easily. The plug is simple, classic black rigid plastic sleeve, cylindrical, straight and 3.5mm gold-plated connector. Finally, the usual Velcro band, a house brand, to collect the cable.

Good construction, for a very classic design, with a detail, something different, in its back side. Very polished and shiny metal. Effective lines for a simple and functional model, as well as very small.

The weak point, in my opinion, is the cable, fine, rubbery and microphonic. The freedom of its adjustment, allows to use it over the ear, to reduce this effect. How would this product have been, with a better quality braided cable?

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Adjustment and Ergonomics

Simple design, equally quick and free adjustment. The X49 can be used with a variety of tips, allowing for greater or lesser immersion and isolation capability. Bi or tri-flange, single, foam tips can be used, and it can even be worn over the ear. In my case, this is how I use it, to reduce the microphonics. The tips used are made of silicone, 4.5mm inside diameter, size L. With them I get maximum clarity, a great seal, better feeling in the lower area and very good isolation.

The great advantage of this design is the freedom it offers in the adjustment and in the choice of the tips. The worst thing is still the cable and its consequences.

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Sound

Profile


The profile of the X49, as usual in this type of IEMS, is neutral/balanced, with a mid-centric/warm tendency. The highs are soft, making them ideal for long listening.

Bass

Single BA + low price = Don't expect it to be suitable for Bass-Heads, nor for lovers of the area. They are also not the best IEMS for listening to loud music and not for bass genres, because distortion can appear without remedy. Having said that, we all know the limitations of the BA, in the sub-bass section and its somewhat unrealistic reproduction, with that too rough and shaky texture. The X49 are like that, too neutral, without much energy, quite delicate in this area. Its precision is average, when it comes to representing complex and unfiltered bass passages. Its hitting is quite harmless, because of the small amount of air it manages to move. Its sonority is coloured, since the execution is a little forced. If we ignore the bass genres, the lower zone defends itself with greater quality. The amount of volume also helps a lot. The X49 doesn't support a very high volume, if you listen at normal volumes, its sonority will be much more realistic and less critical, perceiving a low zone more in accordance with reality and a more natural, but quite neutral recreation.

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Mids

When you get to the mid zone, the tables turn. A warm, more natural and full sound is perceived. In this range, the X49s are fresher, but with a spark of darkness. The reproduction becomes softer, far away, than you might think. The X49's look is not analytical, but reflects the intention to recreate a neutral, balanced, low noise, analog sound. The delicacy persists, the voices are quite balanced, without much brightness, but with a fairly fair measure, although not completely full, but rather homogeneous. The instruments accompany this sensation, since their execution is quite similar, without any major favour or presence for them.

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Treble

The high zone of the X49 is not very explicit and it is quite controlled, there is not much spark, nor much extension, giving rise to that sensation of analogical sound that it emits. This particularity limits the amount of detail produced, adding an extra softness to the final sound, but being insufficient to transmit a greater capacity for definition, resolution and realism in the high notes. But, on the other hand, those who love the mid-centric and relaxed sound, will find in this model, one of their best allies.

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Soundstage, Separation

The scene is quite rounded, without being very wide or high. It does not have much depth and the number of shots is limited. The positioning is quite correct and the instrumental arrangement is presented in a coherent way, offering a quite homogeneous balance. There is no clear predominance of voices over instruments, adopting a rather neutral approach in this sense.

The capacity of separation is not very big, but the sound is not condensed, but there is a certain amount of air that, provides looseness to the sound.

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Conclusion

The NiceHCK X49 is a different and cheap alternative within the existing IEMS magma, between 10 and 20$. And I'm sure that, also, within our collections. Its size is tiny, it is very comfortable and the option with microphone, can be a great alternative, as a headphone for use with the Smartphone. On the other hand, they are not an IEMS for any genre, nor for high volumes. But they are very suitable for those whose bass presence is not predominant (pop, rock, vocal genres, classical, radio, films, series, etc...), because its mid-center character, its softness, warmth, neutrality and its analogical feeling, provide a quite pleasant and affordable sound, which will allow its use for hours and hours and to which, for sure, you will end up hooked.

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Sources Used During the Analysis

  • Burson Audio Playmate
  • Sabaj Da3
  • HiBy R3 Pro
  • Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus
  • JWD JWM-115

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Purchase Link

You can read the full review in Spanish here
Pros: Light ,comfortable, looks retro and great, sound is balanced and surprising for something this cheap.
Cons: non removable cable but really at this cost nothing to complain about.
Its Hard to believe these are $17 earphones, ill just start with that... these are ultra budget earphones!
They are made better than I would expect but the cable is a bit thin.
Isolation is good better using a triple flange tip or foam perhaps.

Sound:
Is far better than I was expecting for the price and from a single BA driver.
This is not a Etymotic but they are a good budget starting point.
Bass: Is punchy and present , for a BA this is amazing to me, there is a speedy subbass roll off but the X49 has a good balanced sounding bass to it.
Mids are clear and have details and warmth to them upper mids are boosted and slightly forward, vocals sound decent with warmth and clarity to them.
Treble is detailed but not over extended yet has some sparkle.
Soundstage is not overly wide yet is not narrow or shallow either, perhaps medium in size with a little less depth, imaging was good too.

Conclusion: This performs much higher than its price tag, it was a pleasant surprise to use this earphone, its a hidden gem in the ultra budget category.

Attachments

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Pros: Small light form factor. Should fit everyone including small people. Well balanced tuning with crisp sparkly treble, smooth warm detailed mid range and a punchy bass end. Shiny chrome plating small barrel shaped housing. Easy to drive.
So cheap your gonna want a few pairs for gifts during the holidays. Great for pack in earphones for portable use as it actually has some decent passive isolation. A micd version is available for phone use. Best sounding surprise bag earphone to date.
Cons: Standard budget build with a permanent skinny copper cable attached. Microphonics from the cord worn down. You get the box the phones and 3 sets of silicones. Can't expect much for accessories. Thinner treble notes with some glare/ splashiness. Sub bass roll off as expected.
NiceHCK X49
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As an audio enthusiast sometimes we hear music in ways that surprises us. Owning my share of earphones that end up costing a bit of money. We all have expectations of earphones that cost a lot. Goes without saying the more we spend the more we expect from these earphones.

So what would you expect for an earphone that cost $17 and some change? Can’t possibly be good right? I mean you just spent $330 on your moondrop blessing2 with 4BAs and a dynamic. Or even better you might have spent $1500 on your new Campfire Audio Solaris2020. Who cares about a cheapo from NiceHCK when you got these nice higher end IEMs.

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You can throw out your idea of how a budget earphone is supposed to sound like. Forget cheap sound associated with a cheaper earphone and try out a $17 single Balanced Armature earphone from NiceHCK. It has been a while since the sound guys at NiceHCK has made a new IEM since the coronapocolypse shutdown.

They come out of the gate with a budget offering so good you're gonna wish you bought one of these instead of them janky looking shoes you bought at Walmart.

I would like to thank Jim and the good folks at NiceHCK for providing the review sample for my take on them. You can buy the X49 which is currently not on sale for $16.99 for the single ended or $17.99 for a mic’d cable here. These earphones are old school in that there is no way to connect your favorite cable onto them but makes up for it with a very good well balanced sound.
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The package comes in a small box not too removed from the size of a larger deck of cards. It is a small and minimum package since not too much comes with the X49. It is the earphones, a set of silicones, a cable clip, tie and some instructions. Bare packaging but you're not going to care about that once you throw on your favorite tips and have at it. Despite what you think about BA burn in. These do require a bit of burn in with your music for them to be %100. A day's worth should be fine.

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The build is about what you would expect from a small unassuming earphone with a permanent cable attached. The cable seems to be of a standard copper fare coated in some type of water resistant silicone material. Minor springiness but not an issue. Cable is not too far removed from every cable you have seen that is connected to cheaper earphones. Functionable and probably not as durable as your aftermarket cable but as long as you treat these phones with some delicacy there is no reason why these won't last you for years. The shells of the X49 is where it gets good. A small cylindrical chrome electro plated copper shell is used for the single BA housing. Not only nice and clean but looks about as sturdy as it will get. The physical size of the housing is a smaller borderline micro size so these will fit everyone no matter what sized ears you have.

Among the many surprises the X49 will have in store for you, it actually has decent passive isolation. A bit above average actually using foams. So your detail when out and about is good. Comfort is all dependent on what tips you use. They do emit microphonics but can be used over the ears to lessen cord noise.


Now onto the sonics. All sound evaluation was done using my DAPs Fiio M15, Shanling M6pro, M5s, M3s, Ibasso DX160 and Cayin N5ii.

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Sound tuning of the X49 has its foundation on a balanced one. It is partially harmonish tuning with a peak at 3khz. The real surprise here is that these sound nothing like a cheap sub $20 earphone. The sound quality is much better than you would imagine. Sure it doesn't have the detail of your expensive higher end IEM or the bass end of a well tuned dynamic driver. Can’t expect that but what you are getting is a much more balanced sound than you would imagine. In fact I recently got a flagship from another maker, the TRN VX earphone that cost way more, has 5 more BAs and a dynamic per shell and I can honestly say the X49 actually has the better sound quality over them. The X49 doesn't try to be something else that it isn’t. NiceHCK didn’t go for a crazy energetic treble to try to highlight detail or try making it sound like a bass first earphone. You get a well done balanced tuning that has a crisp treble end with sparkle, a well imaged detailed yet warm mids section. A slight bump in the upper mid ranges giving presence and range to the mids. All done with a decent punchy bass presence.
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Soundstage, also surprising. These utilizing one full range BA you would figure due to the sheer small size these would sound confined. Not at all actually. These have a decent medium sized stage in width which is greater than the height and depth. Music sounds like music that you recognize in fact much better than you would think coming from a single BA. Imaging and clarity is also done well on this set and mids layering actually has presence on these. They don't sound like a flat one dimensional sound. Treble end will sound a bit brittle on open listen so I do advise burn in to bring out the best of these. Treble is not as refined as higher end IEMs but has decent crisp detail from the get go. It actually has some treble shimmer to go along with the full well balanced tuning. Vocals has good presence and instrument separation is again, surprising.
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The bass end actually has some punch and sounds accurate. These are not a bass first IEM. But does have enough grunt to make music sound natural. It has sub bass but you can guess where the weakness in a cheaper single BA can be. Sub bass lacks presence and texture but is decent enough to pull off tunes that has sub bass emphasis. I wouldn’t grab these for bass genres but they don’t outright fail on well mastered EDM tracks. This balanced tuning bodes well for a variety of genres as a result.

Some negatives. These are so small I can see folks easily losing these. The cable is so skinny I have a feeling you are one good snag away from snapping off the cable on the X49. Sound wise I find the treble to be a bit on the thin, frail side and can get a bit grainy. It isn’t outright terrible but I think in trying to tune in a bit of sparkle. The driver probably can’t handle the extra energy needed for that sparkle and ended up a touch grainy. Sub bass is lacking on these but you would expect that. These negatives are probably more due to the limitations of the BA that is being used. You can’t expect a world class end game single BA for your $17 is my point.

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In the end the X49 is a well made earphone in build and tuning. It is much more natural and rangy sounding that you would imagine having more ability than the price would indicate. I know there is an ever increasing competition for your hard earned cash, but these as they say is a no brainer. So is it worth picking up a set of these if you already own a herd of earphones? Sure why not. If you're into good sounding IEMs. Next time you're shopping the express. Pick one up and be surprised. If anything these will make perfect gifts for loved ones. Hey nothing says you care like giving good sounding audio to loved ones. I can guarantee you won’t get the sour face when they hear how good their music sounds using the X49. Thanks for reading.
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Dsnuts
Dsnuts
Will take a look
harry501501
harry501501
I found the sub bass took on better depth and body with Xduoo x 2 so worth trying with different sources
ChrisPBacon
ChrisPBacon
"you're gonna wish you bought one of these instead of them janky looking shoes you bought at Walmart" killed me hahahahahaha
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