Driver: 2x Dynamic Driver + 1x Balanced Armature Driver
Impedance: 32 ohms
Frequency response: 20 – 40,000 Hz
Sensitivity: 98 dB
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated to Xiaomi in any way and do not benefit monetarily or in any other form for writing this review. I purchased this in-ear monitor with my own resources and I am simply giving my honest review of the product!
Review by: “Charlie” from The Little Audiophile
Xiaomi In-Ear Headphones PRO HD Retail Price (at time of writing): S$39
Ease of Wearing: 9/10
Noise Isolation: 5/10
Value for Money: 9/10
Sound Stage: 5/10
Separation & Imaging: 7/10
Source Matchability: 8/10
Xiaomi In-Ear Headphones PRO HD – That’s what Xiaomi decided to call this thing. *Shakes head* I’ll just call this the PRO HD from now on as y’all will go nuts reading “Xiaomi In-Ear HHHeadpphoneeeess PPPPRRRRROOO HHHDDEEEE” over and over again. So, you’re welcome.
These retail for just under S$40 (US$30) and this price range is where most budget earphones are found.
The packaging is extremely simple. A White box with a picture of the IEM on the front, “Mi” logos on the sides, and specifications on the back.
Open the slide cover and you will be greeted by a plastic case with a clear lid which houses the IEM with the M-sized tips attached and 3 pairs of extra ear tips. Below this box, you will find another white box which houses the soft carrying pouch. But for S$40, I’m can’t ask for more.
Do bear in mind, the provided case is impractical to use in the long run. Inside this plastic case, you will find this soft-touch rubber cable management thingy which 99% of you will not use as it is just too leceh (Malay for Troublesome) to keep coiling your cable everytime you are stowing this IEM away.
If you decide to not use the rubber insert, it would expose the extra ear tip compartment, which has spikes to hold the tips in place. I am pretty sure it is not a good idea to put your earphones in there.
TL;DR just use the provided carry pouch…
BUILD AND DESIGN
The Xiao… I mean PRO HD is housed in a, get this – TiTAnIuM hOuSinG. I don’t know how Xiaomi is able to use such premium materials in something of this price honestly, but good choice of materials here. Overall, the housing is very light and does not weigh down on the ears. This earphone is only available in brushed metal silver.
I should say that throughout my 1 year plus of owning this earphone, and using them for sports, outdoor wear and even sleeping with them on, this earphone held up and is still going strong. Durability has been tested by yours truly *wink*.
I do not like the nozzle on the PRO HD. The ear tip stopper is not wide enough and the ear tip would tend to slip too far down the nozzle. The bore is Comply T400 sized and is fairly short, so comfort should not be a problem for most people. Opinions if any
The wire is 1.25 m long which is standard and the material Xiaomi opted for here is some kind of soft rubber which is very springy and I am not a fan of. However, it is not as bad as the one on the KZ ZSR‘s. Thank god that thing has a removable cable. Talking about removable cables, the PRO HD does not have one, so in the event that your cable does fail or break, then it will be time for a new earphone.
The PRO HD cable is very supple and flexible. Do note that there is no chin cinch on the cable if this is a deal-breaker for you. There is, however, a 3-button remote + microphone, which supports Android in-line functions for play-pause/call and volume up and down.
Comfort wise, these earphones are very comfortable to wear for long hours at a time. I found no pressure points in my ears and there was minimal heat build up too. The short nozzle also helped to prevent any abrasion or rubbing in your ear canal.
However, the stock ear tips are absolute garbage. Initially, I thought it was just me until I had 2 other friends who complained that the stock tips did not work for them either and were just atrocious when it comes to giving a proper seal and fit.
As such, noise isolation is just very poor. In fact, I could not even do a proper sound quality evaluation because of the poor fit and seal. As such, I had no choice but to use a third party ear tip to evaluate the sound quality. The ear tips I opted for was, you guessed it! The Final Audio Type E ear tips. In my experience, these ear tips change the sound signature of IEMs the least, so that I can be as objective as possible in this review. Unfortunately, even with a proper fit with these tips, the seal is quite airy and isolation is only average.
Note: Sound Quality was tested on my Huawei Nova 2i with AKM4376A DAC.
I chose to test this earphone with a normal smartphone with a decent enough DAC, as most users would not be buying a dedicated player or DAC to pair with this inexpensive earphone anyways.
I’ve ever owned some of the earlier Xiaomi earphones that cost less than the PRO HD that we are reviewing today. I can say that though the PRO HD is not perfect, I have to say that Xiaomi has come a long way in its earphone development. I would say that this product is strong in certain areas and weak in others. But for S$40, I’d say these are worth the purchase.
This earphone houses 2 dynamic drivers. Smells like it needs some burn-in doesn’t it? Yes. It does. A lot of it. I don’t remember exactly how much time I have put into the burn-in process, but I believe it is somewhere close to 200 hours. That’s pretty loco.
Pre-burn-in, the PRO HD had unbearable sibilance. It was just through the roof! In my self-declared sibilance test song “New Face” by Psy, every “s” sound was so prominent and pronounced that it was just a torture to listen to.
Post-burn-in, the sibilance has lessened but is nowhere near eradicated.
Soundstage, Separation and Imaging
The soundstage on the PRO HD was not very wide and lacked depth, width and height perception. Instrumental and vocal separation is decent for the price.
Vocals are flat in my opinion, and it somehow does not gel particularly well with instruments. It gives the perception that acoustic guitars and cymbals take a frontal presentation, while other instruments (especially drums) and vocals are positioned to the back.
Sound signature? No question. These earphones are really bright. Despite the crazy amount of sibilance, the PRO HD is actually very detailed. I was able to pick out most of the minute details in tracks that I know well. However, paired with the substantially recessed bass, the PRO HD just does not sound full or weighty. Thus, overall, I just cannot say this is a resolving earphone because it lacks bass and lower-mid quantity and texture.
I would also, therefore, only recommend this earphone for acoustic, jazz or other down-tempo, lower energy music because of the sound signature.
This is undoubtedly the most disappointing part of this earphone. Bass hits are so recessed that it hits with no impact or authority. I actually visualize a half-hearted punch when I say this. Sub-bass wise, I did manage to make out a hint of sub-bass on certain bassier tracks, but that is as far as it would go for sub-bass response.
Mid-bass is slightly more audible, but again has no weight or punch to it. The note decay is also not quick. The best way to describe the bass is lethargic and sluggish.
The mids are flat and quite boring if I must be honest. Though vocals are not recessed, they lack the energy that makes them engaging or intimate. On quieter sections of the track, vocals sound too soft and can get masked by the trebles. On more complex tracks, vocals have the potential to get lost in the mix.
String instruments, especially guitar strums are pretty crunchy, especially on acoustic genres. However, just like the vocals, they can get overpowered by the trebles if the track is complex.
The treble region is where the greatest strength and weakness of the PRO HD is found.
The good – The PRO HD is really bright and has great treble detail for the price. If you are looking for bright sounding earphones for under S$50, these are worth a look.
Now comes the bad. As far as these earphones are bright, they are not able to bring out the vocal detail and texture as the mids are just too recessed. Also, I feel that there is a substantial peak somewhere near the 10kHz range which makes the trebles downright sharp and piercing on tracks with larger treble presence.
Select Alternative Ear tips
I totally do not recommend the stock ear tips. Of all the people I know who has owned or owns this earphone, their number 1 complain is that these ear tips do not even give a proper seal and fit.
Although this test was conducted with the Final Audio Type E ear tips, I would personally recommend KZ Starline ear tips. They seem to elevate the bass response slightly while making the mid-bass less splashy. Sibilance is still hanging around though.
Note: All prices stated were at the time of writing.
PRO HD Vs Advanced S2000 (S$68)
These 2 earphones are of completely different sound signatures and though the price of the Advanced S2000 is a little higher, I feel you are getting a more balanced sound signature with the S2000.
The Advanced S2000 unquestionably has a V-shaped sound signature. It has a punchy bass and sub-bass extension is decent. Mids are not very recessed, but vocals do sound a little nasally. Treble rolls-off a little early i.e. the extension isn’t very good. Not much sibilance is exhibited in the S2000 and is in-turn less fatiguing to listen to for longer listening sessions.
The PRO HD has way less bass than the S2000. Vocals on the PRO HD are less nasally but are more recessed as a whole, because of the insane trebles. Talking about trebles, the PRO HD is no doubt the more detailed of the two but is also the (much) more sibilant.
The PRO HD is more well built than the plastic-housing S2000. The S2000’s cable is way cooler as it is braided and it also feels stronger as compared to the PRO HD’s cable.
If you are keen on trying out the Advanced S2000, you can actually go have a listen to them at Zeppelin & Co. located at Sim Lim Square, #02-78.
PRO HD Vs KZ ZSR (S$37)
The KZ ZSR has a U-shaped sound, but with more treble emphasis than bass. the bass is definitely punchier and weightier than that of the PRO HD and the mids are also recessed, but not as much as on the Xiaomi. Vocals are clear and articulate, though slightly lean. Trebles are sibilant, but it isn’t as bad as that of the Xiaomi. Overall, it is just a more balanced sound signature.
The overall build quality of the ZSR is worst than the PRO HD with it’s all plastic build which does creak a little if you press on the shell, but for the cable, it does come with a 2-pin 0.75 mm removable cable.
The PRO HD is an inexpensive earphone for the budget conscious listener. It does have it’s strong points, but there are also glaring weaknesses which could ruin the overall listening experience. If you are treble or sibilance sensitive, this earphone is definitely not for you.
Personally, I would fork out a little more ka-ching just to get a more balanced sounding earphone. The S2000 for one is a great option. However, if you strictly have to keep within your budget of S$50, I would highly recommend checking out KZ products (links to the KZ website will be below).
I do feel that Xiaomi has come a long way in developing their earphone lineup. Build quality is fantastic for the price, but sound signature wise, it just won’t please everyone.
To end off, if a bright sound signature is your thing, sure give these a shot. But if you are looking for a more balanced sound, there are many other brands offering this sound signature, possibly even for a lower price.
Do check out our WordPress site at https://thelittleaudiophile.wordpress.com/ for more reviews!