- Jan 29, 2012
I'll concede that I'm new to the headphone game. I'm no savant claiming erudition on the subject of headphones nor am I a charlatan. Hisound Audio has made a name for themselves for offering relatively wallet friendly digital audio players with a price to performance ratio that is astounding. Starting with a relatively small demographic of full-sized high impedance portable headphone users to reducing hiss and fixing problems indicated by consumers, they've branched out into the headphone market. Targeting a relatively budget-friendly (comparatively), money conscious audience, they've hit the jackpot with a series of great sound for the value IEM's.
In addition, I'd like to thank Jack of Hisound Audio for providing the review sample and kindly conversing with me and answering all my questions.
The Hisound Audio Popo is a single, vented 9 mm dynamic driver with a frequency response of 16Hz - 23KHz. With a relatively standard impedance of 16 ohms and a sensitivity of 110 dB, it is only moderately responsive to volume adjustment unlike other highly sensitive IEMs like the SM3. It is prone to picking up hiss and that isn't an issue with the headphones but rather the source. The barreled design allows for over the ear and under the ear usage although the lack of a cable cinch leaves the cable likely to fall off the ear. This issue is slightly augmented by the relatively annoying microphonics yet is no major problem when listening to music. The isolation provided by all tips are good drowning out voices and moderate level noises and the comfort level is top-notch with the size of the housing causing no pain.
The finished product is done very well besides some minor chips on the wood housing and sadly a disconnect of the wooden housing from the metal frame of the headphone easily fixed with a touch of glue. With sturdy strain reliefs at the exit of each wooden housing, the y-split and the straight 3.5mm jack it seems very well-made without any fears of cable damage. The cable sport a red rubberized finish with a nice smooth feeling. The thickness of the cable is neither too thin nor overly thick leading to easy use with length that nicely spans the distance from my ears to my pocket. The choice of a straight 3.5mm plug is not as well appreciated but that's just preference and the strain relief on the 3.5mm jack seems resistant enough preventing any future problems. Now, this may be due to my compulsive nature, but a slight observation that did not in any way hinder the finished product was that from the y-split up the cable to the left side was slightly longer by about 1/2 an inch. Hardly noticed, and hard to notice it is just a slight qualm that I wished to express. The small indicators of L and R on each headphone was a nice touch giving the user easy access and no confusions to which to put in which ear. The vent for the driver was placed directly below the wooden housing in an obscure and discrete location. Now on the meat of the product. The wooden housing gorgeous. Made out of African Rosewood, the choice of material was exquisite drawing envious looks and expressions from my friends and all alike. The Hisound Popo is a well designed and quaint little IEM with the use of wood gaining my props.
The Popo comes packaged nicely in a hardshell plastic case with the color scheme of the packaging neatly matching the color scheme of the ear phones themselves. With the headphones you receive a user manual in Chinese with a VIP Card (it is apparently used for possible discounts and I believe warranty although some clarification would be nice). A variety of tips (a plethora that'll make sure you achieve a secure fit for the optimal sound quality from the ear phone) and a shirt clip (that handily reduces microphonics) is included. Although there is no carrying case I am not too bothered by that while others may be. Overall, I thought the packaging was quite nice for the price point with the variety of tips topping it all off.
For this review, I was quite nicely provided the RoCoo BA, a new product specifically designed for highly sensitive balanced armature and dynamic IEM's. It utilizes 50mW of power, a nice compromise between power and the hiss provided by any more gain.
Furthermore I used several laptops to test the difference in SQ by use of different sources and the hiss emanating from each.
One word. Bass.
Targeted at a more modern demographic with a preference of pop and alternative music, the Popo as derived from what I'm guessing to be Pop, is what you would think it would be. It delivers a satisfying bass that is able to extend pretty low. After burn-in mentally and physically, the overbearing presence of it subsides slightly giving a slightly more controlled and tight bass. Again, there is no withholding the fact that it targets a general audience of bassheads. With pretty good depth and impact the lower frequencies become the driving force of a song (except those without bass of course). The bass bleeds a little bit into the mid-range warming up tracks, a little too much at times, yet is not necessarily unwanted. The attack and speed isn't the quickest I have heard yet the decay and texture is natural and satisfying if not a little too much.
The midrange is lush, rich and smooth. Although it seems recessed in comparison to the bass, it still is there presenting a moderate quantity and quality of details. As a preferential vocals lover, the usage of this IEM was a sharp contrast from other IEM's. I didn't realize the lush and colored tonality of the midrange until I switched back to the previous IEM that I was using and it sounded cold and stale in comparison. Sadly, at the expense of a lush sonic quality, the Popo loses out on transparency and clarity seeming a little too thick, augmented by the mid-bass. This is not to say that it is bad in any way, it is merely a preference and vocals sounded smooth with a slight grain analogue-like sound.
The weakness of this IEM is the treble. The dynamic drive although competent in the lower and middle frequencies is rolled and smooth in the highs with a lack of detail. Yet it still maintains a little bit of sparkle and the smoothness of it makes it unoffensive and complimentary to the other frequencies presented by this ear phone giving an overall pleasant experience. Treble lovers will want to stay away.
A final note, the soundstage is quite a nice addition is such a small barreled IEM. It is able to produce nice width giving a sense of air within each instrument and gives an intimate and up-front presentation. Definitely a plus in terms of helping to level out the bass of the headphone and for cinematic movies.
In summary, priced at under 100 dollars, the Popo is a great buy and a high value IEM that I would not hesitate to buy if my preferences were to more bass-oriented genres.