A Headphones Reviews Blog
Prior to the review, I’d like to kindly thank Mr. David Annez of Frogbeats for providing me with the review sample.
Hisoundaudio is a Chinese DAP (Digital Audio Player), IEMs and earbuds manufacturer, highly praised by audiophile communities all over the world for their Studio V and Rocoo DAPs. In 2011, Hisound had begun to push their earphones and earbuds more and more into the international market. The subject of this review will be their flagship IEMs, the Golden Crystals, which utilizes 5mm sized dynamic drivers, which are said to be the smallest of their type.
Before we’ll start, here the technical specifications of Hisound’s Golden Crystals:
Impedance – 16 Ohms
Cable Length – 124cm
Sensitivity – 110 dB
Frequency Range – 15 – 23,000 Hz
Driver – 5mm Dyanmic Driver
Packaging: I cannot comment on the packaging because my sample has been sent to me without a packaging, though, from what I had read, the Golden Crystals are packaged in a fancy leather box.
the included Hisound branded case
inside of the case
Accessories: A few months ago, when I had reviewed Hisound’s Popo IEMs, one of my biggest complains was the lack of a carrying-case. Well, at this time, a leather-like zippered carrying case with Hisound’s logo on it is included with the IEMs; after all, this is expected because these are the top of Hisound’s IEMs range. There is a plethora of tips included from all kinds, sizes and shapes; First of all, the traditional 3 pairs of single-flanged tips are included (Medium [X2]/ Large). There are also 3 pairs of triple-flanged tips (Small/Medium/Large) and 3 pairs of Hybrid clones tips (Small [Orange]/Medium [Green]/ Large [Blue]) included. Last but not least, there’s also a shirt clip with Hisound’s logo on it included. A would’ve liked to see a tips cleaning tool included too, but other than that, the included accessories are quite generous. The rating is 8.5/10.
GCs and ACS T15s
Building Quality & Design: The Golden Crystals have a tiny form factor, they’re one of the smallest IEMs in my collection; its size is very similar to ACS’s T15s’ size, which is minuscule. The housing is built of bronze and golden colored metal (probably aluminum), which feels very hard and sturdy to me. Left and Right markings are placed on the housings’ top accompanied by the word “crystal”. Meanwhile, in the housings’ bottom there’s a tiny vent, and again, the word “Crystal” is printed there too. The nozzle is protected from wax entrance by a hard plastic surface. The utilized strain-reliefs aren’t your standard strain-reliefs; they’re built into the housing itself and they’re made of sturdy plastic, which I’m not sure that will really provide stress relieving. The cable is quite different from the type of cable used by Hisound’s Popos. It’s a twisted cable coated with a flexible plastic surface, quite similar looking to the cable utilized by Brainwavz’s M1s. Until the Y-split, the cables are quite thin, but after it, they unite into a quite thick cable. The lack of a chin slider is quite noticeable and it is a down-point in my opinion. The cable ends with an L-shaped 3.5mm gold-plated jack which looks and feels quite hard and durable, and also, has a proper strain relief. A point that I’d like to mention is that my first set of GCs had got broken; the right driver had produced a very low volume, while the left one was ok. I had thought to myself that a $200 set of IEMs should be a bit more reliable, and shouldn’t be defective less than two weeks after I had received it. Thankfully, the manufacturer had sent me a replacement unit immediately when I had contacted him; that’s what I call a good customer service. The rating is 7/10 because of the bad experience that I had with my first set.
Comfort & Fit: The Golden Crystals utilize one of the world’s smallest dynamic driver, and it is quite expected that the earpieces would be quite small, even tiny. Also, the earpieces are super-light and they disappear into my ears when they’re inserted. The fit is quite deep, yet, there is no discomfort/pressure build-up. I had found the single flanged ear-tips to be the most comfortable out of the tips assortment. They’re a bit different from the standard single-flanged silicone tips; first of all, they’re oval-shaped. Second, their inner-core is quite hard, while their surface is very soft and pleasant to touch. The GCs can be worn comfortably enough both in the straight-down and over the ear wearing methods. The score is 9.7/10.
Isolation & Microphonics: The isolation provided by the GCs while paired with the triple-flanged tips is very good, though, not as good as isolation kings such as Etymotic’s IEMs. On the other hand, when paired with the other kinds of provided tips, the isolation is only a bit above average. The vent in the housings doesn’t prevent the isolation, as it enters to the ear. The cable utilized by the GCs is very microphonic when wearing the IEMs straight-down, while, as always, when wearing over the ear, the microphonics are reduced to a smaller amount; not disappearing, but not as bothering as when worn straight-down. The rating is 4.5/5 for the isolation and 2.5/5 for the microphonics, which gives this category a rating of 7/10.
Sound Quality: As recommended to me by Jack of HisoundAudio, I had burned-in the Golden Crystals for more than 200 hours before their testing. There were some small changes noted – First off all, the sound had got opened quite a bit, and also the bass had got more present and its impact got better too. On the other hand, the highs had got a bit sharper, though, a bit clearer too.
The overall sound-signature possessed by the GCs is transparent, clear, balanced, analytical, and yet, also quite musical.
Bass: The bass is very well controlled and balanced, and in line with the other sound frequencies, integrates well with the overall sound. The extension is very deep, and the bass has a speedy punch, and also a pretty good body, which feels quite full. The texture is excellent, one of the best that I had heard in these prices.
Mids: The mids aren’t forward, but aren’t recessed either; as the bass, they’re pretty much in-line with the other parts of the sound. They’re very clean and clear, and detailed. Vocals sound great; very accurate and every small nuance in them is revealed by the GCs. They feel a bit thin, but not in such a way that bothers me.
Treble: The treble has some sound characteristics which are quite similar to the ones possessed by IEMs which are balanced-armature based – The treble is quite bright, a bit sibilant (most noticeable with badly recorded tracks), clear (the clarity is really amazing, outstanding) and clean. The sibilance (which at times can be quite ear-piercing) is caused by the very good extension that the treble has; it has some cons, but also some pros too. For example, lots of micro-details in the very high frequencies are revealed. The treble possesses a very good sparkle and is very crisp too.
Sound-Stage & Imaging: The sound-stage is average sized; it has a good deepness but lacks some height. On the other hand, the Imaging is decent.
The rating for the “Sound Quality” section is 9.5/10.
In Conclusion, The HisoundAudio Golden Crystal offers a stunning clarity and overall sound-quality. It is an IEM which will fit excellent users who listen to music genres such as rock, soul, classic and instrumental music, though, the GCs are quite versatile; they can deal with almost every music genre in a satisfying way. They offer a tiny form factor which makes them easy to fit even the smallest ears, and every average sized IEM looks like a giant next to them. The isolation is quite good, and the accessories are too. I was quite disappointed with the building quality after my first set got defective less than two weeks after the reception of it, though, my current set is with me almost an month and is still ok. The final score is 8.5/10. If the building quality was a bit more reliable, the score would’ve been higher, as other than that, this IEM does everything almost perfectly to its price.
Pros: Generous Tips Assortment, Great Isolation, Amazing Comfort, Stunning Clarity, Balanced Sound.
Cons: Lack of chin-slider, Unreliable building quality, Microphonic cable.
Where to Buy? The HisoundAudio Golden Crystals’ official pricing is around $200. It can be purchased internationally through a few dealers, one of them being Frogbeats, a Glasgow, Scotland based online-store.