Hisoundaudio HSA-H200 Pro Review by mark2410
Thanks to Hisoundaudio for the sample
TLDR? Try here http://www.head-fi.org/t/809117/hisoundaudio-hsa-h200-pro-review-by-mark2410#post_12600942
First Impressions: Quite a nice looking box, Hisoundaudio are certainly coming along in that regard. Ahh got the thing open and I’m instantly transported back to the 80’s. These are genuine, old fashioned on ear, earphones. You know, the thin metal band over the head, circular foam covered pads that just sit on your ear and don’t isolate in the slightest. These look and feel achingly retro. I don’t know why but it makes me smile, there is just something fun about them. Picking them up though they don’t feel like something from the 80’s. They feel so solid, firm and that metal band feels so stiff. They may casually look like old fashioned flimsy earphones but they certainly don’t feel it. The plastic on them too feels very nice to the touch.
On the ears and the utter lack of isolation is weird to me. Acoustically they are pretty bass heavy, well upper bass heavy anyway. They are so open they are never going to reach very low no matter what Hisoundaudio have done they can’t defy physics. Rather warm and rich too. Treble is curiously detailed yet tame. I’m not sure I’m loving the richness, it’s a little much and its making them feel a little muddy when the treble detail level means they clearly aren’t. Burn in time.
Source: FiiO E7/E9 combo, Hisoundaudio Studio V 3rd Anv., HiFiMAN HM-650, 1G Ipod Shuffle, Nexus 5, Lumia 735 and a Graham Slee Solo Ultra Linear.
Lows: I have a touch of mixed feelings about the low end here. There is due to the form factor and their being desperately open, no real bottom deaths. You just can’t really get the deepest lows in something this open, not that most music has the deepest lows in them anyway. Still its something that I noticed when comparing with the Senn Momentum On-Ears, they being more closed simply did better. What was also evident in that the Momentums were physically so much bigger. The v-JAYS being more physically close to the H200’s had the same thing. They really are so curious and the ear in comparison to most things by stint of their form factor. The bass is so open and airy yet it’s so richly warm tonally. It’s rounded and has tonally an inclination towards thick but its openness feels so utterly at odds with that tonality, it’s weird. There is a darkness to them, like some darkly overcast sky, like there is an impending storm, like some tropical typhoon is just there. It’s so close you can almost touch it, the dark, the warm, the power beneath the faintest of barriers about to riotously rise of like some giant wave of death. There is something, impending, looming just out of sight ready to sweep all before in some monstrous tidal wave.
“Your Father and I” is like some warm dark wall of bass. It’s a little monotone and its does rise a little towards the mid/bass cusp region. Vocals are a little influenced and warmed by the bass. However its overall darkly warm richness to me, for me ears and my musical preferences, is over kill. I do believe it’s a most popular sound signature in Cathay but to me and I think for more western ears, it’s too thickly warmed. For audio purists / audiophiles anyway.
Mids: The warmth and the darkness pervading them is still highly evident in the mids. They are dark, they have a certain something of the night about them. Firing up Northern Kings and their bizarre take on “I Should Be So Lucky” that darkness, the scale and air is a little counter intuitive to the darkness and the viscosity. It’s strange, they feel like their openness wants to pull them towards cooler, drier and a more open presentation but the warmth and darkness pulls it in the opposite direction. Tonally it’s much more like something you’d expect from something very closed but then its wide open. Its staging is so open yet it’s all so dark and viscous. The presentation masks much detail and nuance from the listener by this presentation. It’s too thick too, heavy and too creamy. It is the classic and archetypal 80’s Sony esq sound signature.
I feel that its weight and thickness will go down a storm in the Far East but I’d have liked something less heavy. Something a little more light than this wall of weighty oomph. Like some deep seated roar they have such force and weight behind them. What feels like endless power behind them yet they aren’t prominent, their inclination towards the lower vocals makes them somewhat staid.
Highs: They are surprisingly rather treble muted. For something that is physically open they have gone for the opposite end in terms of sound signatures. Thus the treble response is very subdued. They have air by being open but the treble is very reticent and quite over shadowed in prominence by the lower end and heavy low vocals too. The treble is like a most tiny dash of lemon cutting through some quadruple chocolate cake mousse. It’s in there, but behind in so much weight you have to hunt a little for it. It’s like Hisoundaudio have deliberately gone out of their way to make this the anti-open on ear classic headphones. The things you may remember from the 80’s which were inclined for light bass and abundant treble, these are the total inverse.
Soundstage: Weird. Physically they have a space to them, open air but tonally, they are thick old beasts. There then feels like there is space hey it’s got a dark and enclosed quality too. It’s really unusual. Instrument separation though is light, they all sound close in up on that stage. They are all more or less are going together and merging into one.
Fit: I wanted to wear the vertically up but this didn’t work so well. You see the ear pads have no flex to them so they wanted to sit flat on my ears. My ears aren’t flat though. So to get a little bit of an angle going I had to move the band from sitting bolt upright towards the back of my head. This introduced a bit of an angle for the pad to sit more naturally on my ears. I’m not sure I loved the feel, I wanted them upright but pushed back was the much more comfortable option for me.
Comfort: Once pushed back at an angle I got along quite well with them. The metal band however be warned, it’s a beast. It may look like some 80’s thin bit of metal but it’s more like a steal bar. Thus these babies clamp like mo fo’s. So you get a super secure fit, but it’s a little head squeezing. Compared to the v-JAYS these felt locked onto my skull and like short of a hurricane nothing in nature was going to budge them. The v-JAYS felt so slack in comparison. So they weren’t quite as comfy but if you wanted you could probably stretch the headband. Though if you do you’d loose some fit stability.
Cable: It’s black with some dark red crisscrossing pattern down it. It’s a little ridged and feels solid.
Build Quality: They may look like some 80’s headphones with same flimsy metal headband. The headband is like a steel beam. To look at you don’t expect them to be solid, they dont look solid but they really are. That band is so tough and firm its totally unexpected. The plastic bits too, I just assumed ye 80’s light cheap flimsy plastic but they are super solid. I know they may not look like a totally ridged headphone but they actually are sooooooooo much more solid than a glance would suggest.
Microphonics: None. There is also a neck synch if you want but there is no microphonics at all.
Amped/Unamped: There really wasn’t a huge difference between a beefy amp and a phone. They did err toward the bass from a phone, its growing notably. It did also feel a little bit more slow in tempo of course it’s not really but it hadn’t the same immediacy when better powered. However it really doesn’t need amping on the whole. Their differences were small so it’s clearly been made with lesser sources in mind and it tries to make the best of them.
Isolation: None. I suppose maybe technically there may be one or two decibels but for all realistic purposes there is none. If you need to be able to hear outside noises, like traffic or maybe the phone ringing, these would work for you. If you are thinking about a flight or Tube commute your crazy, don’t bother. Even using on a bus I wouldn’t because you will be blasting noise out to all around you, your fellow passengers with want to beat you with sticks and you would deserve it too.
Accessories: You don’t get a lot, you get a spare set off pads and a little Velcro cable tie thingy. You don’t get a case of bag or anything but its form factor doesn’t lend itself to the use of one anyway so it’s not really a significant omission
Value: They are not exactly cheap and while they wouldn’t be my personal choice their physical nature is probably going to be what’s the clincher in terms of value for you. They are snug fitting on ears, small enough to use outside without looking like a knob and yet allowing you to hear any impending meetings with a vehicle or cyclist.
Conclusion: The HAS-H200 Pro is a total queer duck. Visually its screams 80’s and I want to buy same Walkman off eBay to go with them. Then you pick them up and they are so solid in construction they feel nothing like what I remember. Granted I was a small child, the on ear headphones of this style I had were cheap things and the H200 Pro’s are circa US$120 (about £83) so from that alone they had better be considerably better. Well, they are. These look so 80’s retro but they are nothing like them in build quality, these are so solid and firm, they are clearly a much more quality object than a casual glance may suggest.
Acoustically they are again a bit of a queer duck. Being physically open wide you expect an airy, light presentation but instead you get this very heavy, weighty dark presentation. It’s the antithesis of what you’d think is coming and it makes for a weird situation where the tonal style says one thing but the physical attributes promote the opposite. I feel you don’t really end up with either entirely but I believe this tuning is squarely aimed at the Chinese market. From what I gather there they are big fans of the archetypal Sony 80’s sound, big, warm, rich, highly viscous a presentation. I confess it’s not my preferred style but I can see it having a fan base. Its all just so not what you’d expect.
So would I / should you buy one? Me, na. I need isolation from portable things and these don’t, of course they don’t try to. For you, well maybe you want these for the office, for working at home, want to listen to music while you work but still need to be able to hear the phone when it rings. Maybe you want something that on ear and is as small as possible? Some people can’t abide any buds in their ears but don’t something huge. I mean you could very easily use these outside, go for a run in them they would clamp enough to stay in place give you music and let you hear traffic when needed. So while its target user may not be me there certainly is a place for them and a target demographic that they would be perfect for. Indeed a quick 10 minute play with them took them off and promptly declared “They are f***ing good!!!”