-most cohesive hybrid tuning from Hidizs
-full bodied bass with rich timbre
-good macro resolution
-fast treble speed
-good male and female vocal presence
-transparent mid range
-unique built design
-good quality cable
-very easy to drive
-slightly dry timbre
-treble lack refinement
-tuning filter aren’t usefull
-treble lack sparkle, brilliance and air
-mids are on the thin side
-spatiality feel compressed
-soundstage lack depth
-definition edge is a bit fuzzy
-upper mids can iduce sibilance
-treble filter is too trebly
-easy to drive but source picky (very sensitive)
-price is not very competitive
SOUND VALUE: 7.5/10
Hidizs is a well known audio company from China that have launch DAP, dongles and IEMs. While i’m a big fan of their DAP like the AP80 PRO X, and find their XO dongle very good too, i’m less convinced by their earphones I test before like the MS4 or MS1. It seem their IEM offer good technical performance but struggle with tonal balance that will trigger sens of musicality in me.
Today I will review their flaghsip IEM, the MS5, which is a 1DD+4BA hybrid with tuning filter and a unique and eye appealing look.
Priced 380$ (but with a MSRP of 500$), the MS5 enter a very competitive IEM market, so let see in this review if they will be able to offer something special that could make them stand apart.
CONSTRUCTION & ACCESSORIES
The built of MS5 is very nice and it’s design is unique too. I love the back plate look which seem to be an open back too, but it isn’t. Their a side venting hole tough that can create some minimal sound leakage at high volume.
The black finish is mate and smooth, the share is organic and very comfortable. Whole shell is made of light alluminium alloy so they aren’t too heavy to wear.
As seen, their 3 tuning filter that you can screw. It work well but they feel a bit cheap, made of very thin metal. As well, i find them too easy to unscrew, which can be annoying.
In term of packaging accessories, we have generous amount of eartips, 9 pair of 3 different silicone ear tips model. We have as well an impressive cable and a nice quality carrying case.
This is the features of the excellent quality cable:
– 504 Wires and 8-Strand 26AWG “Amorphous” Cable
– Hidizs Composite Braiding™ Single Crystal Copper Silver-Plated Wire Core
– Hidizs UltraSoft™ Extremely Soft Insulator
– Hidizs GoldMix™ Gold-Plated Soldering
– Hidizs HD-OFC Gilding™ Oxygen-Free Copper Gold-Plated 4.4mm Balanced Plug
– 0.78mm Standard 2-Pin Connector
– Hidizs Shark Fin™ Appearance Patented Connector Plug
– Pure Copper Splitter and Plug Shell
Sure, it would have been nice to either have the choice of cable plug or getting a modular cable instead of 3.5mm single ended, but at least this is a really good braided cable that feel sturdy, have a unique look that fit perfectly the MS5 design and very good current transmission that doesn’t color the sound or affect it’s dynamic negatively.
All in all, accessories are OK.
The MS5 offer 3 slightly different tuning option, but it isn’t night and day difference and mostly affect treble response. Bass doesn’t really add low end boost but tame a bit the treble, while balanced is extremely similar with a notch more texture and highs energy and treble have more upfront treble focus, moreslty in texture and brightness grain region.
For this review, i will focus on the BALANCED module, which is my fav and offer the smoother balance of them all, without treble spike of Treble filter or slight sibilance and harshness of Balanced filter.
So, whatever filter you choose, you will get a bright to warmish U shape signature with smooth near dark mid range, full sounding and gently impactfull bass and energic highs that are fast and snappy but louder than rest of spectrum.
BASS filter is my favorite one and offer smoother balance, free of problematic sibilance or treble hotness. It offer thicker warmer bass but it’s not really more bassy, just a hint more thumpy and warmer in mids transition. Mids are hint darker and thicker too and more softed in upper mids but less transparent and good in proper definition. Treble is less snappy, and feel more cohesive, whole macro dynamic seem more organic and glued as a whole too.
BALANCED filter is perhaps best of both world, but upper mids are quite fowards, yet the dynamic feel a hint more W shape than plain U shape of Bass filter. I will use this filter for full review.
TREBLE filter is unusable for me, too fatiguing in upper mids and treble and it tend to extract percussions and micro details in a more unbalanced way. Their a hint more air and cleaner imaging, but it’s the brighter-crisper and more agressive U shape tuning.
The bass is for me best part of the MS5 tonality, the dynamic driver used is very good and offer a well rounded slam with deep resonant rumble that doesn’t bleed alot on mids since it stay in the back, well layered from mids and more fowards treble. We have a hint more sub bass boost but it’s not an Harman tuned bass that lack punch weight and authority, yet, it’s not radical basshead even if it can induce headbanging enjoyment and do attract attention in bassy track like R&B, Rap and IDM.
When sub bass hit, their long resonance that can affect proper definition of kick, it will tend to dominate mid bass punch and overall definition and separation will not be sharp nor very clean, so yes, the bass is a bit loose but energic and full bodied still. Texture is quite rich too, but for cello or contrabass it will tend to dominate the presence and affect naturalness of tone. For example, when the contrabass string is pulled their will be an over focus of texture and bite of attack then the extension will feel a bit less loud.
The mid range isn’t very appealing to my ears, it’s lean and dry and thin in timbre. Its well resolve with an emphasis on upper mids presence so we have good amount of details and decent imaging and sens of center stage openess yet the dynamic isn’t there and note weight is light.
Female vocal can feel a bit shouty and even have slight sibilance. Let say the MS5 aren’t for mid range lover, especially those that favor tone and timbre naturalness over presence brightness. As said, Bass filter will smoothen and make mids more bearable, but to the cost of resolution and dynamic will still be rather lean.
Male vocal are not recessed and feel more bodied than female, but sibilance unbalance can occur and they are brighten quite a bit. With a track like ”Many Times” from Dijon i doN’t struggle to understand each words and separation is good, singer dont get mixed up with percussion and guitar and drum, yet, it’s less dynamic part of the music and it should be wider and more upfront in rendering, here we get distract by fast drum dribbling and percussions first, then the bass line, then we find the vocal, very centered and compressed in this busy fast track.
Back to female vocal, texture is over boosted so it can go lipsy, shouty or sibilant, but it’s more fowards than male vocal and feel more open and wide in loudness. For example, Celeste ”Strange” track offer breathy vocal naturaly but here the breathy part is super textured and near noisy, the BA timbre isn’t smoothen enough.
It would do the same with woodwind instrument like flute or saxophone, it will be bright and concentrate in presence loudness, very textured but not airy and dense and wide in presentation, nor natural, we can say hyper realist because the layering is good enough but it’s an energic and bright presentation that can be fatiguing, saxophone will feel very more upfront than both piano and bass in a jazz trio for ex.
And then, my favorite instrument, acoustic piano….isn’t really spoil here, sure the instrument attack is fast so it permit the note to be well timed even in fast playing but we don’t feel the drop of them due to light note weight and the definition is lacking in proper edge, sustain and decay is very fast too making the piano sound a bit boxy.
And now the treble.
Let’s begin by saying it’s the most boosted and vivid part of whole spectrum and offer a strange mix of darken and boosted part of texture, it’s not plain spiky or trebly but it’s not smooth either. Bright in a dry way with extra presence loudness for high pitch instrument that will sudenly dominate the dynamic rendering. But very capable technicaly wise to, fast in attack and snappy in control, like all good BA should be.
It’s a treble that feel effortless in delivering high amount of details, but it shout them at you, it’s not delivered in a smooth way, nor very full sounding in imaging. Metallic instrument will have a more edgy attack, making note definition sharper and better layered while woodwind instrument will have blurred fuzzy definition edge.
Technical performance of treble is still impressive, especially in speed and timing. With busy track it doesn’t struggle to keep it’s pace with all instrument and doesn’t go muddy or messy. For example, ”Skink” from Elephant9 have excellent layering of synth, drum, bass and percussion, the cymbal crazh doesn’t go out of control and in fact feel tamed in loudness, but are very clear too, I can even pick up the texture grunt of bass player, it’s very impressive yet a bit compressed in spatiality and the percussions lack brilliance.
So, this isn’t a very crisp, sparkly treble, acoustic guitar will not have alot of brilliance nor alot of natural decay, it will feel brighten in texture and attack lead.
All in all, this isn’t the most balanced or refined treble i’ve heard, nor the worst, it’s generous in details but not in a clean, airy or very accurate way. We know we listen to balanced armature with the MS5.
The Soundstage isn’t an highlight of the MS5, for gigantic airy hall like soundstage I will suggest the MS1. Here we have a concentrate spatiality with stereo channel that feel stick on center stage, which lack deepness. So, it’s a bit stock in your head spatiality with average wideness and tallness.
But this doesn’t mean the imaging is bad, while not end word in precise instrument placement, the sound layering is plentyfull and well articulate in separation. We can easily separate sound layers, yet it’s difficult to pin poin exact positioning of mid range instrument. High pitch instrument and percussion can be easier to spot, but not in a realist way, they will be more extracted than low and mid range sounds or instrument.
At 5.6ohm of impedance, the MS5 are very easy to drive, yet quite sensitive and source picky. For example, I can’t listen to them with Moondrop Dawn 4.4 at high gain (230mw) because gain is too loud and even 1/10 volume make them sound shouty bright. At low gain, it sound cleaner and more neutral, less W shape and agressive in dynamic. Yet, the Dawn is a bit bright and don’t complement well the sound flavor of MS5. So, it seem the best pairing is with my Hiby RS6 single ended. Tonality is warm, but clean, detailed and full bodied, it match very well the MS5 and tend to make mid range a hint fuller and more foward, it does make the timbre denser and more natural too.
VS KIWI EARS ORCHESTRA LITE (6BA-250$)
The lite offer a warmer and more mid centric W shape tonality. The bass is chunkies, faster and more mid bass focused, it’s less textured and doesn’t offer as much rumble or deep extension. Mid range is notably fuller sounding, but not as crisp and detailed, it’s darker, thicker and more natural in timbre. Vocal are smoother and lusher, acoustic instrument sound less thin and boosted in presence, upper mids are less aggressive and their no sibilance so overall mid are more buttery we can say.
Then the treble is thicker and fuller but not as detailed, textured and snappy, it feel more cohesive in balance and don’t have timbral issue like the MS5. But MS5 have a hint more air and extension on top so highs are more crisp and snappy and deliver higher amount of micro details and superior sens of imaging and separation.
Soundstage of both these IEM isn’t impressive, but i would say Lite seem a notch wider and taller but not as deep in center stage. Imaging isn’t impressive with both of these but MS5 is crisper and superior, it’s not as thick in sound layering and have greater transparency for instrument positionning.
All in all, tonality is more balanced, cohesive, natural and musical with the Lite, it’s smoother too and more laid back but technicalities of MS5 like resolution and imaging is superior.
VS Hidizs MS4 (1DD+3BA-230$)
Firstly, i find the MS4 quite unlistenable so the MS5 is quite a big step up both in balance and technicalities. MS4 is a brighter and dryer W shape, very energic and excited in treble. The bass is more about mid bass punch, so it’s faster but feel detached and have very thin extension and rumble compared to fuller bass response of MS5. Mids are very wrong, wonky, dry and thin, timbre is artificial and vocal seem distant, their more bass warmth too mixed with this thin timbre, mids of MS5 are more transparent and textured and not as unbalanced in dynamic. Treble is sharper, more brilliant, snappy and sparkly with MS4, percussions are even more in your face and detached than MS5 which have fuller more cohesive treble but not as airy in a spiky way. It’s more refined high.
Soundstage is wider and taller but about same depth than MS4. Imaging capacity is similar, but more realist in positioning.
All and all, their no doubt MS5 is superior both tonaly and technicaly and if I had just listen to MS4 in my life, I would give a crazy positive review for the MS5!
The Hidizs MS5 offer a unique musicality that will perhaps appeal both bass and treble lover, but left mid range and timbre lover hungry.
The bright U shape tonal balance offered by MS5 sit between fun and analytical sound signature, it’s generous in details, have impressive resolution and well rounded and impactfull bass.
While the tuning nozzle do minimaly affect sound presentation, and even if bass filter doesn’t add any extra bass, it does inflict on macro presentation and can warm, smooth or sharpen the treble.
The Hidizs MS5 are an interesting offering but I find the MSRP of 500$ a bit high for what it offer. Technical performance might be good, but the musicality isn’t the most natural to my ears and the treble is fatiguing with all tuning nozzle apart the Bass one, which darken resolution.
All in all, these aren’t bad but their still work to do from Hidizs to achieve a smoother and more musical tonality.
PS: I want to thanks Hidizs for sending me this review unit as well as offering 2 pairs for Chifi Love group giveaway. This is very generous and kind and while i’m gratefull for this, it doesn’t mean i’m officialy affiliated nor compensate in any other way for writing a positive review or promoting their products. As always, those are my 100% independant minded audio impressions.
You can order the MS5 directly from Hidizs store, be fast because the 380$ price might go up soon: