Mids are very open, clear and relaxed; separated from the bass nicely and sounding really effortless on all genres I could listen to. Especially female vocalists are a pleasure. They’re the focal point in this IEM and you’ll like it if you’re a lover of forward mids. My only small complaint for this IEM is the open type of tonality across the mid frequencies. Like it sounds on a higher note than most IEMs out there. I should say the mids are thin overall. It’s like an unnecessary equalizer to some extent to sound off the tone. I’m really impressed by the relaxed and non fatiguing nature of mids as well as the good resolution, but the tonality is not perfect.
Maybe I’m being unjust here for 60$, but hearing the Hibiki sound absolutely great for this price, I wonder how it could’ve been with just a better tonality on mids. Still, you can tolerate this trait with an EQ of your DAP and it’s not the hardest thing to do. Just give some less dB between 1K and 4K, and you’ll have a more natural sound with good tonality and musicality. Given that Hibiki is capable of those things, a little touch would not hurt, would it?
Hibiki definitely is not bright or treble-ish and that’s the point that I liked the most. It sounds very very controlled and giving an effortless sound more often than not. Highs are not the most extended with the Hibiki, but it does impress in this department with a clean response, good separation and articulation across the range.
It reminds me of those high level IEMs which give very good treble while not giving a harsh response on the ears. That smells quality. Once again, this IEM performs higher than its price bracket. The treble amount is so on the spot for me, absolutely fabulous to hear from this budget level monitor.
Since the Hibiki is also effectual in technical performance, I’m going to mention those achievements like I always do with high class IEMs.
The most impressive part is the sound stage. Yes, I liked the bass response which is so right for a natural sound lover, mids are so clean, trebles are so nice on the ear. But still the sound stage is the most amazing thing on this IEM. I’m surprised from the first minute, and it’s always great to hear a wide sound stage from a monitor, let alone a 60$ one. Maybe it’s not very deep, but width is absolutely great and enjoyable.
The positioning, stereo image and separation are also quite strong and honestly I’m not sure if I heard better in the sub-100 category. It’s that good, and even better than higher priced units. This is fantastic work from Shozy and AAW, so I should send my congrats to them. Background blackness is on a satisfactory level for the money and I have no complaints there. Unless you don’t expect it to be like mid-high level IEMs, there’s no problem. Maybe you can dare to expect it though, as the Hibiki performs marvelous in almost all aspects. Dynamism is not amazing and that maybe is the only thing that is not very impressive with it, but you can’t have everything at once, even with 1000$ IEMs.
In terms of driving the Hibiki you should have a good powered DAP, because -altough surprising- it needs more power than most IEMs. This was not a thing that I expected, since it’s made for daily usage from phones and music players. It’s not very hungry but you still need a little more than usual.
I liked the Hibiki from all the sources in my possession, from the Sony ZX2 to the WM1A and Shanling M3S, as well as the FiiO Q1 MK2. So it’s not source picky by any means, it’s an all round IEM with good control. Overall, you don’t have to have a certain type of source. If you insist, I can say it’s a little better to match it with a source which gives good bass and treble. That way you can hear this gem even better. Mids? Hibiki will handle that most of the time with those upfront vocals and instruments.
I personally think the Hibiki belongs to our Universal IEM Recommendations List, but let’s see if our chief agrees with it. I certainly don’t think you can find many IEMs that can sound better for 60$, and in my case, I haven’t heard a better monitor for this money.
It looks great, sounds great and very comfortable at the same time. The fit is also very nice once you get used to it. I recommend the Hibiki for mid lovers or buyers who look for a balanced, natural monitor on a budget.
Time to get that whiskey to drink. Nathan?
Oh here’s that unboxing and first look video again: