Introduction to TY Hi-Z Earbud Family: Mega Review
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BloodyPenguin

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The popularity of Earbuds has exploded in recent years. The range of models from each manufacture is getting more diverse by the minute.

In this thread, I will discuss a good portion of the TY Hi-Z earbud family and I will update with future models if possible.

The plethora of TY Hi-Z earbuds are defined by; design, tuning and most noticeably, impedance.

Below you will find a breakdown of each model from their build, to their unique sound signature.


- All photos in this review were taken by me -

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**Disclaimer – I would like to thank Penon Audio for this opportunity to review these TY Hi-Z Earbuds.**

**Prices shown are current from the time of this review and may be subject to change.**





TY Hi-Z HP-32 ($7.90): http://penonaudio.com/Earphones/earbuds/TY-Hi-Z-HP-32

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[Specs]:

- Impedance: 32ohm
- Sensitivity: 115+-5 db
- Frequency response range: 16-23000Hz
- Plug: 3.5mm L-shaped
- Cable: 1.2M


The introductory earbud to the ever growing TY Hi-Z lineup, is the HP-32. For less than $10 you are getting a fun sound that does not skimp out on detail. Signature is U shaped, but you will not find the bass to be muddy or the highs to be harsh. In return, while the mids are not the front runner, they do produce nice laid back vocals that never seem too distant.

It must be noted that this is the Version 2 of the HP-32. The first version had a straight plug that had to be discontinued because of issues with the 3.5mm plug not connecting properly. This Version 2 is an L plug and shows no signs of any build issues.

A common comparison for the TY Hi-Z HP-32 is the VE Monk+, as they are almost identical in total price. Sound signature wise, these two are different. The HP-32 is deeper and smoother, while the Monk + has a slightly closer to neutral sound and a touch more detail. The Monk + has left me wanting a touch more sub-bass, while the HP-32 has enough lows to keep things fun. Soundstage is similar between these two earbuds, with a slight edge going to the Monk Plus.

The TY Hi-Z HP-32 makes for a great starter into the world of earbuds, even more so for those enjoying a bit more bass with their play back. The HP-32 is a wonderful budget earbud that is worth every of its 790 pennies.

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TY Hi-Z HP-32 [2.5mm Balanced] ($9.90): http://penonaudio.com/Earphones/earbuds/TY-Hi-Z-HP-32-32ohm-2.5mm-Balanced-Version

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[Specs]:

- Impedance: 32ohm
- Sensitivity: 115+-5 db
- Frequency response range: 16-23000Hz
- Plug: 3.5mm L-shaped
- Cable: 1.2M


Recently I bought a FiiO X5 3rd Gen. It has both the standard 3.5mm and a 2.5mm balanced output. Problem was, while I had plenty of 3.5mm plugs, I had yet to try a balanced earbud. Cue the TY Hi-Z 32 2.5mm balanced.

Build wise, it looks exactly like the standard 32 version, but the balanced version of course has the smaller 2.5mm plug. Difference between the two come down to the sound signature. The 32 standard is a little more boomy, while the 32 balanced is much more neutral. Bass is tuned down from its 32 brothers. Mids step up a notch, though not completely flat. Highs are trimmed down on the 32 balanced from the borderline harshness of the 32s. The 32 2.5mm is for sure the most natural sounding, while also having the most detail.

Now my next issue, how do I compare this budget balanced earbud? Well as luck would have it, a few days later a VE Monk+ 2.5mm balanced arrived at my door. How awesome is that? Here we have the two least expensive balanced earbuds on the market today. The 32 Balanced costs $9.90, while the Monk+ Balanced is almost twice that. The Monk+ does come with a nice 2.5mm to 3.5mm adapter that is not included with the 32. They both share the same MX500 type housings and the cables are very close in design as well. The Monk+ does look a little fancier with its smoked housings, though I do prefer the robust angled plug that is on the 32. Construction quality seems to be on par with both of these earbuds.

While I initially thought comparing the TY Hi-Z 32 Balanced to the VE Monk+ Balanced would be a sound Battle-Royale, it instead ended up being one of the most enjoyable comparisons I have done to date. For testing, I had both earbuds equipped with the thin VE foam covers, as I believe these give the most accurate representation of the true sound signature. Before I start, I would like to note that the 32 is rated at, well 32ohm, while the Monk+ is rated at 64ohm. I did a few runs with the volume to test each earbud to match the driving as best I could. On my sound signature findings, it was quickly made clear to me that these two earbuds were tuned for different purposes. Jumping back and forth as fast as I could between these two balanced budget earbuds, it was obvious that the Monk+ has a focus on clarity and soundstage, while the bass took a distant backseat. The 32 on the other hand when for a slightly warmer and neutral sound. The bass on the 32 does extend further down, while giving up a bit of distance in the soundstage. The 32 also has a slight edge on vocal playback. I soon realized my dilemma, if anyone was to ask which one I think they should buy, I would have to man up and just say, "Buy Both". Honestly, they are different and wonderful in their own unique ways. If I was in the mood for some detailed classical guitar, I would reach for the Monk+ 2.5mm, but if I later wanted some good old rock and roll, I would reach for the 32 2.5mm to give me that added warm and low end kick. The crazy thing is you can have both of these for about $27. So the winner here is, me. Because these two earbuds compliment each other, instead of competing.

My final thoughts on the TY Hi-Z 32 2.5mm Balanced Earbud is that, WOW it is a bargain! One of the best deals out there if you ask me, a budget earbud with a balanced output and a wonderful sound. If you have access to a 2.5mm out, I highly suggest you pick one of these up.

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TY Hi-Z HP-32s ($11.90): http://penonaudio.com/Earphones/earbuds/TY-Hi-Z-HP-32

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[Specs]:

- Impedance: 32ohm
- Sensitivity: 115+-5 db
- Frequency response range: 16-23000Hz
- Plug: 3.5mm L-shaped
- Cable: 1.2M


I want to walk up to owners of most Beats headphones and hand them a pair of the HP-32s. Show them you can have bigger bass, for a fraction of the price, all while being less muddy throughout the signature. The HP-32s even has a nice Beats red cable too, making the transition even easier!

The first question a lot of people are going to ask is, what the different between the 32 and this 32s, beside the red cable? The answer is that while the two earbuds do share a similar overall signature, there are some slight differences. The HP-32s has just the slightest V shaped signature, compared to the for mentioned U shape of the HP-32. The sub-bass of the HP-32s reaches further down, while having a tad less mid-bass than the standard HP-32. The HP-32s does extend to the upper range more and could almost be called bright on some tracks. This extension into the highs does give the HP-32s a small amount of extra detail than the HP-32. I do feel it necessary to discuss the cable of the HP-32s, it is an upgrade in looks, though it does seem to be a touch more firm than and not as willing to flex as the simpler cable on the HP-32.

$4 extra dollars gives you a modest bump in sub-bass over the standard HP-32, will also bringing a slim rise in details as well.

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TY Hi-Z AWK-314P ($9.90): http://penonaudio.com/Earphones/earbuds/TY-Hi-Z-HP-32

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[Specs]:

- Impedance: 32ohm
- Sensitivity: 115+-5 db
- Driver: 14.8mm
- Plug: 3.5mm L-shaped
- Cable: 1.2M

Notice something different? Yes, the AWK-314P (or the TY Pi Earbud as I like to call it) is the only TY Hi-Z product to not use the standard MX500 type shell. The housings on the 314P are designed with curves to fit the ear better and they do so very well.

Comfort is TOP NOTCH on the AWK-314P earbud. For me, it contours to my ear perfectly, allowing for an amazing seal and no physical ear fatigue. Also, due to this unique design, the Pi earbud is great for bedtime use. The 314P is so snug, that movement and even laying down does not nudge them loose. With this same advantage in fit, this earbud can stay firmly in place while exercising, which is something not many earbuds of this type can do.

Getting to the sound, it does not share much with its 32ohm brothers and sisters. Instead the AWK-314P controls its own, individual sound. The lows extend deep and show an equal amount of sub and mid-bass. Mids are slightly relaxed, but extremely enjoyable. Now the highs are what really separates the TY Pi earbud from the others. The treble NEVER gets harsh or uncomfortable. The upper frequencies do roll off early, but still allow great amounts of detail through for a budget earbud.

While I try to just report the facts in these mini-reviews, I must say the 314P is my personal favorite TY Hi-Z budget earbud. While it does not have quite the refinement in sound as the 32 2.5 balanced, the TY Pi does have the most fun playback for me. Add on the perfect fit and you have one of my top budget earbuds of all time.

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TY Hi-Z HP-150 ($24.90): http://penonaudio.com/Earphones/earbuds/TY-Hi-Z-Earbuds

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[Specs]

- Unit diameter: 15.4mm
- Impedance: 150ohm
- Sensitivity: 115+-5 db
- Frequency range: 16-23000Hz

If you have not noticed by now, the names of these TY Hi-Z earbuds is in direct correlation to their impedance. So, this HP-150 is rated at 150ohm. While this is just the start to hungrier earbuds, I found that the HP-150 can be driven well by basically any source and will reward the user slightly when given a tiny more power.

I recently did a comparison of this HP-150 and a comparable earbud, the HE 150. Both share a lot in design and have the same impedance. You can find the full review of the HE 150 here: [http://www.head-fi.org/products/he-150ohm-hifi-earbud/reviews/17601]. I will quote the portion that talks about each signature in relation to one other below.

”I wanted to test these two back to back because they both share the exact same 150ohm impedance. Build is different with these two earbuds. The HE 150 goes for the simpler tough look, while the Hi-Z 150 has a much daintier, fancy look. Of course, this exquisite appearance of the TY Hi=Z 150 come with a premium price bump of $10 more than the HE 150. Like the Monk plus, the TY Hi-Z 150 and HE 150 have distinct signature difference. The TY Hi-Z 150 has a cleaner play back, with a minor focus on the lows. The Hi-Z 150 seems to roll off earlier as well, leaving the HE 150 to a slight advantage of the details to be heard in the highs.“

The TY Hi-Z HP-150, like the HE 150 in the comparison above are both a good initiation into larger impedance earbuds.

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TY Hi-Z HP-320 ($59.90): http://penonaudio.com/Earphones/earbuds/TY-Hi-Z-Earbuds

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[Specs]

- Unit diameter: 15.4mm
- Impedance: 320ohm
- Sensitivity: 115+-5 db
- Frequency range: 16-24000Hz

Here things start to get interesting. The HP-320 does benefit from a good source to get the most of its potential. I did test this with many DAPs, like the FiiO M3 that is not known for having a ton of power and it was able to drive the HP-320 without any issue. Stepping up to my full setup, the ORB Jade Casa system, I was repaid with a higher level of sound reproduction. With a warmer source, the HP-320 can sound a touch darker. I found pairing it with the Pro-Ject Audio - Head Box DS brought out the best possible sound.

A good test for the HP-320 is putting it head to head with the MusicMaker/Toneking TO300, as they share close impedance ratings (320Ω to 300Ω) and the TO300 only costing about $8 more. The design of these earbuds are unalike. The HP-320 has the mentioned MX500 housings, compared to the TO300 custom housing based of the Tomahawk in the same family. The cables are also set apart by texture and material. The HP-320 shares the exact cable that of the HP-400, which is soft and braided. The TO300 goes for a completely different approach with a thin, smooth mostly clear cable. Overall build quality is equally good, but as described different.

In quick succession, these two earbuds do have distinct signatures. The HP-320 has a wider soundstage, while TO300 is more closed in, without being congested. The focus of the TO300 does bring the mids to the front, while the HP-320 has a bit more reproduction in the lows. The HP-320 also has just a slight edge in treble quality, though it is almost nominal.

The overall payback is smooth with a laid back maturity. Bass is controlled well, with equal amounts of sub and mid bass. Vocals are gentle, giving the mids a slight backseat in playback. Highs are roll off just in time to experience enough detail while extending ease of longer listening duration.

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TY Hi-Z HP-400 ($65.00): http://penonaudio.com/Earphones/earbuds/TY-Hi-Z-Earbuds

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[Specs]

- Unit diameter: 15.4mm
- Impedance: 400ohm
- Sensitivity: 110+-5 db
- Frequency range: 10-23000Hz

For comparison, I am going to grab the Dark Horse G400. As you will notice, from my previous review, these two look a LOT a like, almost twins I would dare to say: http://www.head-fi.org/products/dark-horse-g400/reviews/15536 The braided soft cable on the Dark Horse has started to turn slightly green from oxidation overtime, I am not sure if the HP-400 cable will suffer the same fate later in life. Though in all fairness, the greening of the G400 cable is only cosmetic and does not effect playback.

While these two earbuds share a lot of build similarities, they sound quite different from one another. The TY Hi-Z HP-400 has the upper hand in every category. The Dark Horse G400 can do little to keep up. The playback of the HP-400 shows class and refinement, while the G400 stumbles along with tuning that is not up to par. The HP-400 has a remarkable clarity that goes from a deep sub-bass up to detailed highs, while not skipping over the nicely thought out mids.

The TY Hi-Z HP-400 is a clear step up in the lineup and sets the tone for the forthcoming HP-650.

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TY Hi-Z HP-400s ($69.90): http://penonaudio.com/Earphones/earbuds/TY-Hi-Z-Earbuds

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[Specs]

- Unit diameter: 15.4mm
- Impedance: 400ohm
- Sensitivity: 120 +-5 db
- Frequency range: 10-25000Hz

Let me start off by saying, how much I like this cable; it is simply beautiful. The HP-400s is one of the classiest looking in the TY Hi-Z line up.

Questions will arise with the differences between the HP-400 and HP-400s. Most noticeable distinction is the cable. Both share the same white housings but the HP-400 comes a soft braided cable and the HP-400s has the for mentioned gorgeous clear cable. While I personally prefer the HP-400s cable for looks and touch, it does seem to tangle a bit more than the soft braided cable of the standard HP-400.

When listening to these two models back to back, the division in sound is minimal, but there is a slight slide to the right towards a cleaner treble with the HP-400s, giving it a sense of better clarity. Though one would be hard pressed to find the difference between these two unless you are jumping back and forth within seconds of each other. Both are brilliant earbuds, but the extra $4.90 is well spent on the HP-400s

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TY Hi-Z HP-400se ($75.00): http://penonaudio.com/Earphones/earbuds/TY-Hi-z-HP-400se-Earphone

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[Specs]

- Unit diameter: 15.4mm
- Impedance: 400ohm
- Sensitivity: 125 +-5 db
- Frequency range: 10-25000Hz

Welcome to the TY Hi-Z family, the newest HP-400se. This is the third 400ohm earbuds that TY produces. While this may seem like an exorbitant amount of earbuds in this range, I will say that the HP-400se is tuned quite different than the other two.

I will compare these HP-400se with the HP-400s and HP-400. While the the HP-400s and HP-400 share a similar sound signature, the HP-400se takes a departure from is siblings. The HP-400se has a much smoother, almost neutral sound. It gives up a bit of lows and a bit of highs, but in return gets the edge on vocals of the three. I noticed the soundstage of the HP-400s and HP-400 are every so slightly wider than the HP-400se. Play back is still conveyed with attention to detail, but just with greater ease.

One will be quick to notice that the HP-400se looks a LOT like the flagship HP-650. The only difference being that the HP-650 has a gold 3.5mm plug, while the HP-400se's is silver. My only complaint about the design would be, that they really should have made the housings of the HP-400se a different color, maybe silver instead, so they would look different even at a quick glance. Not only do they share a very close color scheme, their overall sound are extremely similar as well. I'd not hesitate to call the HP-400se a baby HP-650. Listening to them in quick repetition, I was not able to discern much difference in their signatures. Both are silky smooth, close to neutral, with a natural play back.

The HP-400se comes in a unique, tough round case. Unlike the simple white boxes that had come before. Only the HP-400se and HP-650 are transported in higher end canisters. The build of the case is one of the resilient I have ever seen.

The HP-400se is a welcomed addition to the TY Hi-Z family and brings to the table a quality sound, that even mimics the flagship HP-650, while pushing itself farther away from the sound of the HP-400s and HP-400.

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TY Hi-Z HP-650 ($119.00): http://penonaudio.com/Earphones/earbuds/TY-Hi-Z-HP-650

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[Specs]

- Unit diameter: 15.4mm
- Impedance: 650ohm
- Sensitivity: 123 +- 5 dB
- Frequency range: 8-27000Hz

For comparison, I will use the current flagship from K's Earphones, the 500ohm earbud. I reviewed this earbud a short time ago and I borrow a bit from it below. http://www.head-fi.org/products/ks-earphone-500ohm-earbud/reviews/17622

Build wise, they share the exact same size, MX500 style plastic housings, though the K's shell is flat black, while the HP-650 has a wonderful red shimmer. Next, they both have a premium braided cable, but there are some differences; the cable on the K's 500 is thinner and terminates to a nice, but simple 3.5mm plug. The HP-650's cable is much more robust and terminates to a BEAUTIFUL carbon fiber 3.5mm plug.

The Hi-Z HP-650 and K's 500 find themselves sharing a higher level of overall sound quality. They both produce a playback that is very pleasing to the ears. The Hi-Z HP-650 takes everything thrown it with ease and has a reproduction reserved for a top end headphones. Differences only coming with the K's 500 being able to sort out the highs with a surgeon like skill. The smoothness of the Hi-Z HP-650 can be more agreeable for longer listening and the K's 500 excels at shorter use examination. It basically comes down to your personal preference or what you are in the mood for at the time. The K's 500 will challenge you, by making your brain work harder to keep up with all the extra details. The TY HP-650 will take a track and elegantly articulate imaging and produce a sound that is accurate without any harshness. In a way, the Hi-Z HP-650 shares much with a Headphone of almost the same name, that of the Sennheiser HD650 as they both engage and ease the listen experience coincidentally.

The TY Hi-Z HP-650 is more than deserving of its current Flagship title. It is the best earbud in the lineup from the build to the sound reproduction. On a personal note, it is currently my favorite earbud for premium listening.

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*Final Thoughts*

I will update this thread if I come in contact with any future models.

I've enjoyed doing this review immensely, though it was the hardest one I have done to date, testing seven pairs, plus competitors takes a lot of time.

The TY Earbud Range has a LOT to offer, there is something for everyone. Or for someone like me, everything for someone.





**You can see more of my photography and follow me at:**

www.facebook.com/JustinMinerPhotography/

www.instagram.com/justinminerphotography/

twitter.com/BloodyPenguin


I've also started a Facebook Group for earbud fans:

Earbuds Anonymous: www.facebook.com/groups/EarbudsAnonymous/


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jpelg

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Awesome job!
 
Thank you for providing such a concise, yet detailed, view on this line of earbuds & your perspective on their place amongst the other recent players in this arena.
 
Your posts are well done, constructive, while not venturing into the realm of fanboyism. Again, much appreciated.
 
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the diode

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Good read Justin. I have been wondering about these for a while and makes me want to try them even more. Thank you for the great review.
 
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Kerkyboi

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This post is super mega fantastic timing. I am getting really curious about the HI-Z family and this post is just the one I need. Amazing Job Mr.Penguin! :beers:
 
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Do you think the 150s would be too much for an iphone to drive? I'm looking for some earbuds for my aunt as she doesn't like in-ears.
 
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BloodyPenguin

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  Do you think the 150s would be too much for an iphone to drive? I'm looking for some earbuds for my aunt as she doesn't like in-ears.
 
The 150ohm earbud is easy to drive, as I mention in my review.  An iPhone would have no problems with the HP-150.
 
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I have a question, needs a bit of background so apologies for the length!

I have the 32, 32S, 150, 320 and 650.

The 320 and 650 are new today so I'm still finding my feet with them to say the least. Initial impressions very good (as soon as I switched out to thin monk foams) although they have quite different sound signatures to each other.

The 320 isnt as laid back as my usual preferred sound signature but I'm liking how this sound is presented, a big improvement from the 32, 32S (harsh to my ears) and 150. I can see them getting a lot of use. Nice soundstage, exceeding expectations on initial listening.

The 650 are gorgeous on first listen, no harshness to be heard whatsoever. Lush and detailed, I'm looking forward to spending serious time with these.

So question is ... is there any reason (other than completeness) I should consider adding either of the 400 buds to my collection at this stage (or ever)?
 
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BloodyPenguin

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So question is ... is there any reason (other than completeness) I should consider adding either of the 400 buds to my collection at this stage (or ever)?
 
I'll be honest, I REALLY do like the 400s.  It is my 2nd favorite right after the flagship HP-650.  Their clarity is top notch. 
 
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Great stuff. I use the 150's and the wife has the 32's. Now I may have to look at some of the others. 

 
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I like the idea of permanently implementing hi-fi cable into earbuds... but the earbuds' exterior design looks like completely copied from Sennheiser's old MX earbud series.
 
http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/NTAwWDUwMA==/z/HMQAAOSwboVXO~eR/$_1.JPG
 
So, this is Sennheiser MX 400 with hi-fi cable..and different color painting! I want to try it.
 
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BloodyPenguin

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  I like the idea of permanently implementing hi-fi cable into earbuds... but the earbuds' exterior design looks like completely copied from Sennheiser's old MX earbud series.
 
http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/NTAwWDUwMA==/z/HMQAAOSwboVXO~eR/$_1.JPG
 
So, this is Sennheiser MX 400 with hi-fi cable..and different color painting! I want to try it.

Many earbud companies out there just use the standard MX400/MX500 mold for their products.  It is quite normal. 

I was surprised by this as well at first, but now I am very used to it.  I do mention in my review that the TY Hi-Z Earbuds use the MX500 housing types.
 
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  .. but the earbuds' exterior design looks like completely copied from Sennheiser's old MX earbud series.
it.
for some reason the mx500 shell  is VERY popular in the Chinese earbud market. I think its because people feel it delivers good bass. I personally love the yuin fit.
 
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luedriver

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  for some reason the mx500 shell  is VERY popular in the Chinese earbud market. I think its because people feel it delivers good bass. I personally love the yuin fit.
it's royalty free, meaning anyone can use and sell them without paying royalties,
 
idk about the yuin shell, or the ediffer/philips shell
 
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