If I put the presentation difference aside, the Hyla CE-5 is definitely better than the Oriolus MK2 in terms of technicalities. Starting with the sound stage, it’s both wide and deep with good sense of space. This IEM is one of the best ones I’ve heard in terms of staging and connected to that, imaging. Separation is excellent and imagining and pointing out the instruments, the guitar, the violin, the cymbals, the vocals etc. is easy and effortless. It has a perfectly black background and thanks to that it’s very very sharp, separating every element in the recording.
Resolution and clarity is definitely improved, as I’ve mentioned a couple of times on page 2. This is of course very important from an audiophile perspective, and hearing the development over the MK2 is very satisfying. Transparency is also strong and you feel like you reach the core of the recording with no veils in front of you. Despite its fun character, this IEM is definitely very impressive from a technical standpoint.
It controls the spectrum very well, leaving no shrills or boomy nature of bass, and upper mids are also clear from sibilance. The treble is very energetic but still under control and I heard no distortion in my listening sessions. Tonality side is different as I remarked; it’s not the most correct sounding monitor on mid frequency range. It’s brighter timbre and thinner mids (most probably because of the laid back mid bass) is easy to spot when compared with a fuller sounding, warm IEM. You can always use some amount of EQ to fix that trait, and because the IEM is still pretty coherent, you can live with your EQ setting without a problem.
The only things I can find in the Hyla CE-5 is the low mid bass body and fun type of tonality. Those aside, it’s a great high end monitor top to bottom.
Of course some darker sounding DAPs can match very nice with the Hyla CE-5. I used the Sony WM1A and ZX2 DAPs I own, and I need to say the ZX2 paired really well with its warmer and darker approach than the WM1A. But WM1A results in a technically better sound, and its EQ and DSP settings make it possible to balance out the small dents I’ve talked about. I also listened to it with the TOTL A&K SP1000cu, and I must say that setup wowed me from start to finish.
As for cables, I tried the famous No.5 that comes with the Oriolus MK2, and the cable helped to have more body and resulted in slightly thicker & fuller mids. That’s perfect for the CE-5 but on the other hand, the cable added too much bass. Bass heads would love this setup but to me the bass quantity is just perfect with the stock cable. I also tried it with the EA Ares II, and it was a more desirable match with good enough mid bass but the mids didn’t change too much like with the No.5.
With a silver cable, the sound became bright to the extent to make me uncomfortable. I’m allergic to brightness as you probably know, but the amazing bass of the IEM disappeared with silver and it became lifeless with too much brightness for me.
It’s very easy to drive the CE-5 and it actually is very sensitive. I recommend sources with very low noise floor.
The Hyla CE-5 is an exceptional IEM. The effort and the R&D behind it, and the new ideas from the engineers, and particularly the limited number of builds make it so special. It’s apparent that they tuned it to appeal to Japanese crowd somehow, but there’s no reason not to like it in terms of high end sound. I always loved Japanese products, and especially loved their IEMs I’ve listened to up to this point. Hyla CE-5 is not an exception for me, and I liked it very much.
But it’s also clear that it wouldn’t appeal to every kind of people. Its fun nature, strong bass, recessive mid bass body is not for everyone. Yet, it no doubt is a high end IEM in terms of technical prowess, and that is not easy to find, especially at this time with crazy prices. It’s the best IEM I’ve experienced under the 1000$ range in terms of technical skills, therefore I have to tell Lieven to replace the beloved Oriolus MK2 with the Hyla CE-5 in our Universal IEM Recommendations.
It’s a sensational monitor. I recommend it if you’re after a different and engaging sound, and if you want to have something very rare in your collection.