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Maxell HP-CN40 review: the lost gem

  1. slfln
    First of all sorry about my english, it’s not my native language, but i felt that i must share this with you.
    I found a lost gem amongst cheap iems: the Maxell HP-CN40 (aka. Drumsoundz)
    36247031.jpg 17967096.jpg

    About me: I’m an audio enthusiast, and active member of a hungarian tech forum. I wrote several reviews in this subject: here.

    Iem’s owned/auditioned at length:

    Fischer Audio DBA-02, Vsonic GR07, Sunrise Xcape V1, Beyerdynamic DTX100, ECCI PR401, Brainwavz Beta, Maxell Metallics, Maxell HP-CN40, Sennheiser CX300
    Xears XE200Pro, Xears N3i, Xears Resonance, Xears PS II Pro, Xears XSR330, Xears Ultraphile, Xears XN2, Xears XMPRO, Teclast R8, CKDUN CK-W1000…

    And countless headphones which i don’t want to list here… :D

    Let’s get it started:

    The packaging is cheap and you must destroy it to get the earphones. The stock tips are junk, unusuable. Preferred tips: generic bi-flanges. The shape of the nozzle is quite strange. It’s oval shaped, but it works well with the ordinary 5mm bore sized silicones. The housing is from good quality plastic and metal, build quality is very good. The strain relief is well designed.

    The shells are really big, so it’s a pity for those with smaller ears. The diameter of the driver is 13mm. The nozzle angle is ergonomically designed, i had no comfort issues.

    Strong hiss from my iAudio 7. The Cowon also cuts the deepest lows due to the low impedance of the phones. I clearly hear ’rattling’ and ’clicking’ from my Teclast T51 with turned off display. No hiss, or any problem from my FiiO E10.

    It’s open like the new Beta, and it’s isolates similary.

    The upper part of the cable is 50cm and you get an extension cable which is 70cm long. The cable is rubberized, and doesn’t tangle. I think it’s one of the best i’ve seen on an iem. The jack is identical with the BW M3. A chin slider can be found ont he upper part of the cable so you don’t have to use shirt clip.

    First i have to notice, that i get chills when somebody speak about burn in, and how important this thing. Even with the most "burn-in needed" GR07 i haven’t heard any change after 100 hours, and let us admit: nobody remember what happened a week before, and the humans audio memory is pretty bad…

    So the sound was so harsh and unpleasant in the mids out of the box that only a medium bore sized  triple flange / foam tips helped to tune it down. Quality wise the sound was really good, but i had to use eq to tune down the harshness at 3,5kHz.
    I don’t want to write a long essay so now i skip some boring parts…
    I put the phones in the closet with fast metal tracks for a night with slightly louder volume than my usual listening level. (I repeat: i don’t believe in burn in.) Next day i was astonished, because the harshness gone, and presentation wise the earphones changed a lot.
    The sound quality is simply mind blowing for 20$.

    See this frequency graph. Thats what i hear from this earphone. The bass is close to neutral, and the impact is very good. The Xears N3i sounds like a boomy, muddy mess near the CN40. Bass quantity is halfway between the GR07 and the XE200Pro. In terms of speed, decay, and texture it beats out the XE200Pro with KO. The bass is articulate and there is absolutely no bass bleed to the midrange. The low notes are weightier and has slightly bigger body than the GR07. The Vsonic is a bit better in detail and i feel the bass drier with it on my test tracks.

    The mids are full and on the warm side. It’s not recessed but coming from the GR07 the singers and the vocalists are placed a bit farther back. I think it’s because the upper midrange is slightly more presented than the fundamental frequencies of speech. The detail is on par with the best dynamic iems i’ve ever heard, but somewhat lacks in texture. It’s very clear and transparent, and smooth. It’s easy to see in the music. The guitars have also good detail and bite.

    The highs are clean and carry some smoothness from the midrange. In comparsion the GR07 has more agressive lower treble, and it can be quite sibilant with some female singers.
    Quantity wise i think the highs are close to neutral. Cymbal crashes have decent energy and always remain in the background opposite to the DBA-02, which brings them int he first row.

    The soundstage is huge, it’s an open earphone. It has good width and depth. In separation it’s clearly beats the XE200Pro, but lags behind the GR07. Imaging is very good but not so pinpoint as in the GR07 or the DBA.

    This iem has shockingly good sound quality, and it’s 20$.
    I would put it halfway between the XE200Pro (which is my favourite earphone around 50$) and the GR07 in overall sound.
    The isolation is not really good, and it’s hard to find the right tips and the correct fit… but it’s really really worth the effort.
    The quality/price ratio is simply unbeatable.
    Can somebody send a CN40 to ljokerl?
  2. Tauko
    Very interesting, thanks slfln. [​IMG]
  3. slfln
  4. mbamg
    Thanks for the link. There's a lot of other headphones that we've previously hadn't been able to find frequency response charts for.
    The HP-CN40s are surprisingly flat. Then again, so are the beats Solos.
  5. slfln
    The headphone measurements on ryumatsuba are useless, but the earphone measurements correlates well with what i'm hear. For example: the ER4S or the CK10... it compares well with the reviews and with what i found elsewhere.
    Another japanese site: link
    It's also worth to mention this site: link  Notice: these are without HRTF!
    And this is also an excellent site with earphone/DAP/headphone measurements: link
    And of course the innerfidelity: link
  6. moltam99
    Thanks for the review [​IMG]
    Looks like they are another great pair from Maxell, but this time in IEMs.
    Haven't you found a closed and similarly good sounding model by chance?
  7. hgabi00
    Hi slfln ! 
    Thanks for the review, it looks interesting. 
    It seems like Maxell strikes again[​IMG]
  8. jant71
    Snfln told me about this one and it certainly is worth a try at the $17.99 shipped so I have one on the way. Good reviews on Amazon.jp and elsewhere plus I have been wanting to try a Maxell Japan phone but not pay over $50 buck to import one. Open, airy, detailed yet a bit more bass than a GR07 sounds interesting. Should be fun to try out.
  9. slfln
    I think you are suggesting to my Yoga CD-68 rebranded Retro DJ review (FA-004; HM3) at logout.hu which is also a wonderful piece of audio equipment for 20$.
    I have a Metallics somewhere, but they are not so good. They worth their price and i prefer them a little bit over the Betas, but nothing to talk about. The upper midrange and the lower treble is sucked out, and the sound is mellow, muffled, and there is no air.
    The HP-CN45 is closed and shows similarities with the CN40. I'm quite interested how they sound, but i can't find a webshop where i can buy them and ships to my country.
  10. mbamg


    Which website are you getting it from?
  11. jant71
    Annova had some on Amazon and ebay. Only a few so maybe they are gone from them.
    To be honest, these are going to be hard to get FOTM status since they seem to be in short supply. More of a grab 'em when you find them sort of thing.
  12. jant71
    P1010169.jpg P1010173.jpg
    Got my pair a little bit ago. Mostly plastic but nicely built and fairly handsome looking. JVC-like cable; supple yet sturdy and easy to like. Stock tips are very decent quality and sound good. Similar size to the DDM2/Brookstone and other half-in ears so they should fit most people fine. I find them quite comfy. Only listened to them a little out of my Rocoo P but they are really nice little phones. They seem to appreciate a little more power for the bass impact to come out but have nice tight bass with a good low bass punch. Bass/mids/treble are well balanced. The presentation is open and well spaced out with good positioning. Been listening to the ASG-1 and modded TF10 pretty exclusively lately so it is easy to tell the imaging/separation on the CN40 is certainly above average. Nicely extended both ways and a good amount of treble; not bright but a little smidge of sparkle that is satisfying.
    Pretty much concur with slfln. Fairly flat. Good impact. Nice size stage in height, width, and depth. Some good clarity, transparency, and detail. The right balance of layered out/separate while still cohesive. Should improve some with burn-in. An easy recommend  esp. at $20 or less. Hard not to see everyone like this one outside of the modular cable set-up(.5M + .7M). Grab one if you can find it. It stays right in the middle to please most everyone. Not laid back nor really up front. Quick and detailed but still punchy and rich sounding; a good middle ground between fun/analytical. No EQ needed. Fairly big and open but not distant or lean. They do a bit of everything and not too much of any one thing which is nice. Another solid Maxell phone. Thanks to slfln for the recommendation.
    Edit: These strike me as sounding quite a bit like the EX600 with a smoother top end and would make a great choice for that sound on the cheap or as a back-up. That is from memory and of course similar means similar and not identical:) but it gives a good idea of these if you are familiar with the Sony.
  13. slfln
    I'm glad you like it! As i said i prefer the CN40 (well) over the XE200Pro and also the XR120Pro after serious A-B-ing. A member of the tech forum which i active in stated that he likes it over his cc51 and TDII.
    I think this earphone is a giant killer. I still can't believe, that i paid 20$ for them.
  14. jant71
    Too bad the CN40 or CN45 aren't showing themselves for sale right now. At least at below the import prices from Japan.
    After putting some hours on them they do gain more transparency and clarity. Borrowed my friends Thermaltake Isurus and put the tips I originally used on them back on and compared to the Maxell, that have 6-7 hours on them, with the stock tips. The Maxell has a more detailed mid-range that is weightier and has zero sibilance, tighter/punchier bass, and smoother treble. The Maxell are right there technically if not a smidge better at this point but an easier listen and more fun. A good comparison since they have a similar driver size and half in-ear design. Without the big plastic stem that the Isurus has the CN40 is better for fit and possibly comfort. Well worth the $18 :)
  15. slfln
    If someone "more trustworthy" (with more posts) here writes a review or put them in his multi-iem thread i think they will be available everywhere. :D
    Wonder why ClieOS didn't write about them...
    I think he can obtain a CN40/45 easily.
    (It's in stock at amazon UK)

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