ISN H40 Review: Simply delicious juicy basshead gourmet (+video)

-fun lush bassy musicality
-warm and natural tonality
-thick timbre without BA artificial flavor
-big, chunky, rumbly and well define low end
-good note weight
-free of sibilance or any harshness
-good layering
-beautiful vocal and mids that aren’t too recessed
-versatile basshead U shape tuning
-dark treble with some snap
-good packaging, cable and accessories
-price value

-not best bass separation-definition
-poor imaging
-lack of treble sparkle, micro details and air
-average soundstage, especially in depth
-bass would be too much for non basshead
-not the fastest bass
-source picky in term of output gain-impedance


TONALITY (basshead perspective): 8.5/10

My crush about these IEMs (1DD+3BAs) seem to never fade…it begin to be a long honey moon! is it guilty pleasure because they are near basshead? I don’t think so. I prefer call it: Engaging Musicality
Because not only the bass hook me with its beefy flexible slam, but both its quantity and quality impress me since a whole DD cover the task…but this hybrid offer a cohesive warm U shape as a whole too, without this warmness produce by the bass, it wouldnt be the H40.
The timbre wouldnt have this density and softed timbre definition. When its colored-magnify naturalness, how we call this?
I tend to use lushness, or euphony, here its liquid densify euphony we can say…
Anyway, i just love those lol Fun, engaging, warm balanced basshead way and technicaly competent due to this fast BA layering that permit this eargasmic fun ride!
The real critical impressions begin by pressing ”shuffle” of my whole musicbee catalogue….right now its ”Marty Ehrlich travelers Tales” jazz band, bass warm the mids quite alot, they feel a bit dark yet the tone is right and note weight is there. Saxophone sound phenomenal, natural, fowards and open. Acoustic guitar have a bit of over emphasis on low harmony, lack a bit of sparkle and brilliance as expected with balanced armature. While i was praising bass for soul, R&B, electronic, rap, for jazz i would like more definition and cleaner extension, here it add warm and chunkyness to contrabass, which isn’t very textured yet…i do enjoy this track…
Now Celeste singer come in, and her vocal are super fowards, lush, thick, very beautifull just wow…so, for female vocal their no doubt these are excellent, if i force myself to pick up something when she go breathy we have slight timbre texture boost that feel too much.
Now its ”Mussorgsky: The Nursery”. Piano+Soprano. Piano sound great, not the most define and texture yet every note sound full and weighty. This kind of soprano singer will go screamy with too boosted pinna gain, here its smooth yet dynamic, its very soft, no timbral imbalance like Celeste so it might be the recording (mic to near her lips for this very song).
Now its Pierre Hantai playing Scarlatti on Clavecin, as expected, its a bit too dark and lacking brilliance, crispness, airyness and natural resonance to play properly this instrument. It sound full, but not enough metallic.
Now its a String quartet. Very beautiful violin timbre and fullness with good layering, when they do pizzicato it lack a bit of bite but thats about it, its very smooth and lush yet not dark.
OK. I come out of these tracks even more impress by tone, timbre and cohesion of tuning and drivers, for a bassy IEM, these are very versatile. Might be the perfect upgrade to something like Audiosense AQ4 but i need to do proper ABing.

For those wondering why i put 8/10 for technical performance, it’s because at 200$ this isn’t end game for sure in term of resolution, attack speed and imaging yet the soundsignature partly explain why. These aren’t technical sounding IEM at all, everthing is about bass fun, and tone and timbre colored naturalness. Its a thick sounding IEM that doesn’t magnify sens of clarity yet avoid plain muddy rendering due to decent layering capacity only an hybrid can produce.

For more insight as well as a comparison against Penon Serial, Audiosense AQ4 and ISN H30, give a look at my video review here:

PS: I want to thanks Penon for sending me this review sample after I manifest my curiosity about the bassy graph. As always, these are my 100% unbiased and savagely independant minded audio impressions and opinions.

You can order the ISN H40 for 195$ exclusively at Penon store here (non-affiliated link):

Since I love those H40 so much, I ask Penon for a secret discount of 30$! But I can’t share it publicly lol….hum, so email me or PM me on Facebook here:

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