Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Hisoundaudio Wooduo 2 Review

Hisoundaudio Wooduo 2 Review

Thanks to Hisoundaudio for the sample.

First Impressions:  There has been a little bit of buzz about these so I’m quite interested to see where they have gone with them.  The last series of IEM’s from Hisound I felt were rather mixed, in styles, in looks and pretty much everything.  The look of these is just like that of the Popo’s.  Casting my mind back it was an IEM I didn’t bare much love for, massive powerful bass so I’m somewhat thinking are these in the same playing field?  Hmm, I’m not sure I love this flat style cable granted it doesn’t seem to tangle but I’m not a fan.

Shoving them in my ears and the Rocoo BA slaps on Regina Spektors Hotel song, if you know it you’ll know how it kicks off and bugger me, these things have no trouble in moving air!   It’s got a family resemblance to the Popo I think, but it’s seriously up quite a few levels.  This is quite the bass beast but its dealing with it really well.  Of course the quantity may wear on me so burn in time.

Source 5G iPod Video line out through a Practical Devices XM5 with LM6171 opp amps and a Hisoundaudio Rocoo BA.

Lows:  if there was to be one single reason why you would buy this IEM’ this is probably it.  It quantity its right up there but not silly levels like the Popo was and its good, seriously good bass.  If you know my musings you’ll know I’m not a great big lover of mountains of bass and I could see the Wooduo 2 really being too much for me.  It is a lot.  Side by side with the GR07 the 2 is just so much more but its real saving grace is that it is good.  Warm yet tight and about the perfect blend of impact power and bloom.  Even side by side with its rather bassy siblings, the Crystal’s there is just no contest.  The Wooduo 2 just blows them away.  If I was being really, really honest I’d tell you that I rather prefer the sound of the Crystals, its much more to my tastes.  Flipping back the Wooduo’s and dear lord that’s some big ass bitchin’ bass there.  Its remarkably fun though.  Depth is immense, it does get increasingly flabby as you go down but its capable of crazy good bass given the equally crazy quantity.  Fast, abundant, clean, vast, deep, and yet somehow it feels controlled.  As though someone has taken a rather good sub and just cranked up the volume on it.  Comparing to their siblings the Crystals which were about the best Hisound had done te this point and the differences are clear.  While the Wooduo edges close to sibilance they sit a level abouve and the bass is just so much more.  So very much more, abundantly greater and wicth everybit the skill of the Crystals.

If these were a woman they would be J Lo.

Mids:  Good, actually really good.  Going side to side with other things the mids here feel rather comparatively distant.  They aren’t really ever taking centre stage even when Adel’s is singing.  She should be up front and dominating and she is not.  The bass isn’t really what I’d say dominating either but it should be behind her and her declarations of how unpleasant ever man she goes near treats her.  So if you’re a great big mid fan then there aren’t maybe for you but it’s not that they do bad job, far from it, they just are distant.  Clarity in the mids is rather good.  They may not have the grandest subtly that can be had at this price, veering towards the warm and heavy.  Delicate and airy vocals not so much.  They all come through the music very clearly it’s just not what they do best.  These much prefer the bounce and energy of more popy music.  Actually I’ll tell you when they do well, Mika.  Granted they don’t give him the air he should but his music often places is voice as what you ought to be focusing on and here despite lots going on elsewhere the vocals have no trouble shining through.  You really would think given how much bass there is it would over shadow everything but it just doesn’t.  Actually I seem to be quite quickly adjusting to the bass mid balance very rapidly.  Then of course swap to something else, anything else, and it seems so bass light in comparison.  It’s weird, normally this would all bother me and I’d be clamouring for more mids but it all somehow works.  Still the mids here while very capable aren’t the best your pennies can find you.

Highs:  I seem to be having a little trouble making my mind up.  These don’t quite have the delicate finesse that something like the RE-0 has but once you let your ears adjust they are pretty close.  The first when you put these in your ears don’t really hear the nuances beyond that big slamming bass.  Sure you get the noticeable spike and the edge of every high hat clearly audible.  The thing is when you aren’t swapping back and forth and give your ears a little time to naturally adjust then you begin to notice there is rather a lot of subtlety going on.  There is a wealth of detail in there.  You may have to listen a little to notice so it’s not exactly thrust at you but there really is a very surprising amount in there.  Listening to Mr Johnstons Good People the cymbal strikes and decay superbly well.  Such a thing is the forte of the better dynamics (BA things never get decay quite right I think.)  Overall here we are talking more about quality than quantity.  While it’s all clear and detailed it’s not the most readily apparent, probably because all that bass is what’s most noticeable.  I really can’t fault the quality in anyway but be aware the relative quantities mean its high end is relatively warm.  Delicate shimmer and decay more than it the rambunctious and sharp edges.

It may not be what it does truly best but it can hold its own comfortably.

Soundstage:  Rather large.  Even for a dynamic it’s on the big side, if I’m honest I’m having a little trouble disseminating how much its large sound stage and how much is down to its prodigious power.  Na, really it’s a combo of the two.  The mids if nothing else shows it can do quite the bit of distance.  Its good.  Instrument separation is very good, it seems to have a touch of a W shaped sound so the lows, mids and highs all sound very distinctly clear and separate. It’s again rather good especially given this amount of bass.

Fit:  I had no trouble,   they didn’t come with the worlds vastest range of tips but it was more than adequate.  Really just a case of finding your tip size and shoving them in.  they are vented but I had a touch of driver flex and air pressure issues.  Mostly because I was swapping them over repeatedly.

Comfort:  Good.  These gave me no trouble at all even if on occasion I thought that cable might.  These clearly weren’t intended to be worn over ear but I did anyway.

Cable:  Well…. It does look really nice but it’s one of those flat cables.  I have never really liked them.  I’ll admit it does look good but personally, I’d rather have the round one from the Popo’s.  It does feel quite study and the jack looks and feels very nice.

Microphonics:  Well if you wear them down you will get and quite a bit.  There is no chin slider too.  As always if you don’t like that then wear them up.

Accessories:  I don’t quite have a production pack so a handful of tips.  I have seen a photo of the case / box that will be coming I believe and it’s very different.  Perhaps not something for your pocket but I think its looks great.

Isolation:  Pretty decent for a dynamic.  As ever it’s a trade-off between isolation and venting.  I found these to be quite suitable for normal activities, on a bus walking about etc etc.  Enough to get you run over too if you haven’t learned to look when you’re crossing but not really the sort of thing for visiting auntie whatever in New Zealand. 

Amped/Unamped:  There was quite a reasonable difference.  With the use of better amps things just got cleaner, the bass better controlled and the highs had better finesse.  What really did make a difference to was the adding my old and faithful ety impedance adapter.  Does just the same things but with the addition of removing any hiss if your player has any. (The 1G shuffle does quite a bit.)  So if you have pair of these, buy one, best tenner you’ll spend.  Otherwise, amp is more take or leave.  Sure they improve but these sang perfectly well out of the shuffle without the impedance adapter so no not strictly required.

Value:  Well…. The product isn’t actually out so it’s a little hard to say exactly but I’d be willing to wager it’s going to be good.  The RRP is US$129 which is roughly £82, now in that price area I think GR07 is the one to beat and I’m not sure it does beat it per say.  They are so different you can’t really say either is better any more than you can say a sports car is better than a 4x4 (SUV for Americans) they just aren’t the same thing.  The Wooduo 2 is no middle of the read all-rounder.  It’s got a flavour and that’s either a flavour that works for you or it doesn’t.  Of course I mean that bass, its massive and superbly skilful in how it deals with all that low end, a seemingly endless depth and power.  I’m not sure I’ve ever heard this much bass done this well.

Conclusion:  Somewhere in my head I want to use the term bass cannon.  The trouble is that’s usually a very negative term, you see bass cannons are all bit aimed at the lower ond of things.  You know for the “normal” people, the people then think Beat’s are good because more bass means better, right?  Well these do huge bass.  Swapping over to the IE7’s and they may shine in the mids but in the lows they in comparison sound so diminished and roll off so early.  You know because Sennheiser’s are known for lacking in the low end aren’t they.  Yes that how much bass the Wooduo 2’s have, it’s a lot.  Now I’m not sure I could really live with that amount forever but normally any time I’ve heard an IEM with this sort of quantity I run screaming for the hills.  The sheer quantity of air that can be moved  gets really tiring on my delicate little ears and usually the rule is the more bass there is the crapper it is. The quantity / quality seesaw.  Now personally I’m fine with that, I don’t personally want a ton of bass but there are a lot of people out there that do.  The number of Beats things that have been sold is testament to that. 

Now I would like to say that I have not heard the entire range of Beats products and most of what I have has not been for long.  In part because I thought the bass was going to collapse my skull.  What I think about the Wooduo 2 is (cable aside, I don’t like flat) is the Beats stuff done right.  They have bass in prodigious quantities and of exemplary quality.  The bass is really what these are about not to say the rest is not good, it is very good.  These will very happily serenade you with a little Susan Wong or Whitney Houston.  If you somehow could EQ out all that bass these would be still thought very highly of.  Back to the bass, that crazy bass.  You know I really ought to hate it but if I stop changing IEM’s and let my ears have an hour to adjust they are just fantastic.  I cannot fault the quality at all and I could almost even like the abundance.  Now this may be because most of my music isn’t vast bass heavy.  Hitting skip the first bass heavy thing I find is Making Ladies, Scissor Sisters and while I do find it bouncy fun song right now I’m not.  The bass is seriously powerful, too powerful, too much everything and for me this would be swiftly head ache inducing.

So we have established the bass on these is pretty stellar, its vast and if that floats your boat then these I think have got to be the best quality I’ve heard at this quantity level.   It’s so vast yet seriously good.  I think Sennheiser may have found some competition in the better quality but very bassy end of the market.  I can recall nothing quite like these.

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