Hisoundaudio Golden Crystals Review
(both sent me a pair)
First Impressions: Well the box had an oopsy in transit so let’s ignore that. Looking at the bods they are tiny just like their siblings the Crystals but these look more expensive, erm and they are. Eagerly I stick them in my ears and got some slight venting trouble and since I can’t be arsed waiting I’m just going to stick a pair of complys on them. Right so back in the ears and it just feels like something is wrong, okay I know I just had the Tandems in my ears but these sound so thick and mid range vacant. Interesting bass going on and the treble here is a clear step up from the normal Crystals. Still what happened to the bit in the middle? I know I was using a thick ish source (HM-601) maybe they need something dryer? Hmm okay well clearly they like power but still not loving. Fingers crossed these need a bit of a burn in to come to life.
NB. It turns out the pair I had were not quite right and promptly died so were swapped for new pair. The new pair is what everything that follows shall be based on. While it’s rare that I get anything that’s defective the laws of averages mean I will eventually.
Source 5G iPod Video line out through a Practical Devices XM5 with LM6171 opp amps
Lows: Comparing to their siblings the Crystals there isn’t quite the volume and expansiveness of the low end but when you give it a bit of wellie it makes it self apparent. It never really manages to take centre stage though. It is very clean and pleasant but it never feels as authoritative as its sibling, it is really very tight and controlled but it feels like it’s almost lacking in the lowest lows. Still it’s often the trade of you make, the tighter the bass the less expansion and extension that’s there. It could of course just be that the bass just can’t shine past the treble that’s a going on here. The bass though is of an extremely high quality. Taken on its own merits it’s arguably one of the best at this price, its solid as a rock and so clean and punchy. Sure I might like a touch more extension low down but I’m not really missing it. I think I just expected it since it’s a dynamic and can’t help feel it’s not there because they have the teeniest dynamic drivers ever. In a trade off I’d take clean controlled bass like this over the softer more voluminous bass on the crystals any day. The bass here lets you go nuts with any amount of bass and it stays just where it should and clean as a whistle. Super quick, super clean and the most armature like dynamic low end I’ve heard. I really like it but if you really want more air getting moved you’d be happier with its lesser sibling.
Mids: Quality wise great, quantity wise they are in a bit of a hole. The mids are pretty far off in the distance and if you want to play music where the vocals or upfront and in your face then this probably isn’t your go to. They are odd. They are great sounding but feel very much at arm’s length. I feel very mixed about it, it reminds me a lot of the old UE sound, mids are lovely but recessed and distant. Great openness and air though with a hint of warmth. Distance is the most notable trait and it overshadows everything else. It’s hard to listen out to the vocals since them seem so distant yet you think I’d hate that. I don’t. It’s a weird presentation but the mids really are of a very good quality and you know sometimes it really works. For instance Nora Jones sounds outstanding with her breathy nonchalant vocals. Dry and airy and so very relaxed, it works crazy well. Sure I’d like her to be more prominent but I can’t deny it works terribly well. They don’t jute turn their hand to liquid vocals so well but still are very pleasant to hear.
Highs: Hmm they are pretty abundant, too abundant if you ask me but they are well done. They aren’t quite RE-0 good but they are getting pretty damn close. Clarity is very, very good and their lack of a hard edge improves their long term listening ability but there is no doubting the treble has been dialled up a bit. It’s an interesting way of doing it though. Usually the way is make them crispy, hard edged and brittle to make something seem more detailed than it is where as they have gone for almost the opposite. It’s got little edge or any brittleness but they are dialled up nevertheless and it emphasises the treble that normally is heard in the decay where here it’s more centre stage. Its rather unusual but I think I like it. It’s not harsh at all on the ear but it’s still really rather too abundant and I’d rather it was little more delicate in its decay rather than be emphasised then stop dead. I’ve said it before but more than anything it’s just weird. Good weird but rather hard to describe and I fear I’m failing miserably.
Soundstage: They do sound very large and do distance very well but they aren’t so great to the positioning. Still who cares the whole weird distance thing they do sounds great instrument separation too is very good, bass mids and highs all sound very distinct and separate.
Fit: I did get a touch of air pressure issues and since I really couldn’t be bothered I slapped on a pair of complys. That done fit was great and effortless, shove in and done, silicon tips took a min or two to equalise.
Comfort: Great, the things are tiny and I cannot see anyone having issue with them.
Cable: Like that of its sibling, it a bit stiff and has no chin slider. All other aspects are pretty great, it feels really sturdy.
Microphonics: If you want to wear these down you get, up you don’t. It’s as ever your call.
Accessories: You get the usual bunch of tips, rather a lot of them actually. I think I count 13 pairs, yes really. You also get a shirt clip and one of the Hisoundauido little cases which I think are very nice.
Amped/Unamped: These both liked additional power and impedance. Nothing earth shattering going on but they do like it and I’d strongly suggest using amps if you have it. Also I should not they are pretty quiet compared to most IEM’s so you probably want to use something that can pump out a bit of volume. The little 1G shuffle had no trouble even with the 75 ohm Ety adapter added but I did have to turn the volume up further than I would with most things so be warned. If you have a weedy DAP then maybe this isn’t the IEM for you.
Isolation: Great. Its right up there with the usually raft of high isolation stuff, Shures, Westones etc etc. I’d happily use it on the Tube or on a long flight. As usual my warning, if you’re not used to it you’ll swiftly get used to looking for traffic or get run over because you will not hear it coming.
Value: I can see these going for £120 and while I’m not sure it’s what I’d go for I’d certainly consider it. It’s more bouncy and fun than most things around this price; certainly it’s got a more prolific bass response than the raft of dual BA that sit around here. Then what of dynamics like the IE7? Well I like the style of the IE7 better but it can’t isolate for toffee. This is a really fun little bundle, sure it’s not the height of neutrality or outright detail and clarity but it offers a package that nothing else really does. A very fun shaped sound that’s got great detail and is isolated super well.
Conclusion: As I’ve spend more and more time with these they really did grow on me. They do so many things that I’m inclined not to like but it does them all so well. The bass is not what I think it should be but has taken a flavour and run with it. It’s fabulously punchy and quick without going crazy and it feels like dynamic that’s been tuned to be like an armature. It reminds me a lot of the bass style of the UE TF10. All quick punch and not really one that likes to hold a note or go too low. Still it’s an immensely “fun” sound and on more than one occasion I’ve found myself really enjoying it. It isn’t what good bass really ought to be but it takes its chosen style and does it very well. The mids are the same, it feels like they have been listening the TF10 again and emulating it, all distance and air and again it’s not what mids ought to be. Ought to be or not listen long enough and your ears compensate for its recessed nature and you can then appreciate its skill at what it does. The treble too is weirdly flavoured. It’s elevated again like the TF10 but has no edge just detail and abundant shimmer. It’s actually quite forgiving for such abundance. There is so much that this IEM does that I, on paper don’t like but it really manages to pull the package together. It’s so flavoured that you could never call it neutral or natural but it’s in no way what so ever suggesting it could ever be anything of the sort. It’s taken this hugely V shaped sound and played around with distance and style to make southing that is really unique. I at times don’t know what to make of it, then I don’t like it, then I love it.
My first impressions of it really did it no favours and I know it has been commented on by others too. Still when you spend some more time they do grow on you and you can see their abilities but they aren’t instantly apparent. It has a strange combination of attributes but its honestly quite a lot of fun. I don’t believe it’s something I’d want to hear day in day out but should you be in the mood for some power and liveliness then these have it in abundance. It’s as though I like these but just don’t want to admit it because I know I really shouldn’t and they do everything I’d actually never claim to want but yet it all works. I don’t know why but it just does.