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Brief Thoughts Fiio JH5, NiceHCK F1 Pro, Simphonio PB10, Tipsy X EPV Star One - Honest Audiophile Impressions

Reviewing a large amount of gear can pose challenges in delivering timely reviews. I evaluate some products through video reviews while others are covered in written form. Occasionally, I group together reviews of multiple products either due to their similarity or if I believe they do not warrant individual reviews. Today, we will be examining four in-ear products that fall into the latter category: Fiio JH5, NiceHCK F1 Pro, Simphonio PB10, and Tipsy X EPV Star & One.


Purchase (non-affiliate links):


I would like to express my gratitude to FiiO for supplying the JH5 for review and to HiFiGo for providing the F1 Pro for review. The Tipsy x EPZ Star One and Simphonio PB10 were bought using my own funds.


The thoughts and opinions expressed are solely mine. I have not received any payment, pressure, or influence to conduct these reviews or to present a favorable perspective in my findings.

 

My Review Process:


My Terms & Definitions:


My Reference Gear & Music:


Gear Used to Review:


AFUL Snowy Night

Fosi Audio DS2

Hiby FC3

Hiby FC4

Fiio KA17

iFi Audio GoBar Kensei

Hiby R5 Gen 2

Geshelli Labs J2 AK4499

Geshelli Labs Erish 3

Fiio K11

Drop SMSL HO150x

Fiio K9 AKM

Fiio K19

Mytek Liberty DAC ii

Mytek Liberty HPA

DROP THX AAA One

Aune S9C Pro

Aune S17 Pro



Fiio JH5:


The FiiO FH5 will set you back $90 from your bank account, features a hybrid design combining a 10mm dynamic driver and 4 balanced armatures, with an impedance of 13Ω and sensitivity of 111dB.


The unboxing process of the FiiO FH5 is peculiar.

On the silver exterior of the box, there is an image of the FH5 along with its specifications.

Oh, oh, we have a hi-res sticker. It has got to be good!

Upon opening it, you will discover the JH5 securely placed in a foam cutout, followed by a separate box containing accessories.

FiiO provides two sets of silicone tips in black and clear colors. While I found the black tips to be more comfortable and provide a better seal, I did not observe any difference in sound quality.

Another accessory included is a transparent Lego block holder. It's not exactly a carry case since it doesn't lock; rather, it serves more as a display case.

This is one of the most unique cases I've come across for an IEM. While it's not practical for transportation, it does make a stylish addition to any desk.

FiiO provides a 2-pin cable made of high-purity silver-plated copper wires, comprising 392 wires twisted into 4 large strands. Although the cable is well-constructed and has an appealing appearance and feel, it has a tendency to twist and tangle. The ear hooks are well-managed with appropriate tension.

The JH5 comes in silver or a shade of black resembling smoke. The zinc alloy faceplate easily attracts fingerprints and includes Fiio branding.

The shells feature a standard ergonomic universal IEM design with a slight wing at the back and a longer nozzle.

Despite being larger in size for an IEM, the shells are lightweight.

I don't really find them comfortable. I can only wear them for around 30 minutes before they become uncomfortable

. The "ergonomic" design doesn't quite suit my ears; the wing and nozzle angle cause discomfort on the inner ear. The seal is effective, but I need to take out the JF5 to have a conversation.

The FiiO FH5 is quite easy to power with its impedance of 13Ω and sensitivity of 111dB. I could connect it to any dongle, DAP, or desktop source without any problems. The FH5 performs well with any source.


The Fiio JH5 bass is lively, substantial, and impactful, delivering a pleasant rumble and grumble in lower frequencies, with controlled mid-bass and a touch of punch in the upper bass while maintaining clarity and detail without overshadowing the mids.


The JH5 midrange is somewhat recessed, yet it maintains a good body and note weight, providing a sense of fullness. The upper mids are consistently balanced without any hint of sibilance or shout.


The JH5 treble is mellow and restrained, missing the lively and bright characteristic present in other IEMs. Although the treble extends well, it might not deliver the expected level of liveliness. The treble possesses adequate energy to prevent the music from becoming dull.


The Fiio JH5 has a narrow soundstage but good depth, ensuring a multi-layered sound without overcrowding. While detail retrieval is decent for the price, there is occasional smearing and blurring in busy tracks. Tone and timbre are generally natural.


The FiiO FH5 is a solid performer in its price range. There is a lot of competition from the likes of the Ziigaat Cinno, Simgot EM6L, and others. It ultimately depends on whether you prefer the bass and laid-back delivery over the more neutral, natural options.


NiceHCK F1 Pro:


The NiceHCK F1 Pro will set you back $99 from your bank account. 14.2mm planar driver IEM with 16Ω impedance, 104dB sensitivity, and 20Hz-28kHz frequency response.

The unboxing is underwhelming with dark blue outer sleeve and white box. Inside, there is a compartment for the F1 Pro and accessories box.

NiceHCK offers a premium black hard shell carry case made of faux leather, compact for pocket storage with an extra pocket for additional items.

NiceHCK offers silicone tips in four sizes: XS, S, M, and L, each with different sound characteristics. The black tips boost the mids, the grey tips enhance bass and upper mids/treble, while the clear wide bore tips provide balanced sound. My preference is for the clear wide bore tips.

NiceHCK offers an exceptional OCC silver-plated hybrid cable that is lightweight, well-controlled, and resistant to tangling. The ear hooks provide a secure fit without being overly aggressive.


The F1 Pro has a unique aluminum alloy shell design; I found it compact yet not ergonomic due to its inclined back and angled nozzle.

Despite a smooth finish, it doesn't fit my ear well, causing discomfort. The unusual shape makes it unstable, requiring frequent adjustments, and I can only wear it for about an hour before discomfort sets in, necessitating a lengthy break. Comfort levels may vary for each individual.

The NiceHCK F1 Pro, being a planar, is easily powered by most balanced dongles, with DAPs and desktop equipment providing improved performance.


The bass performance of the F1 Pro is not the most captivating, offering some sub-bass but lacking significant rumble and grumble. Mid-bass has decent impact but lacks texture, and upper bass is somewhat tucked, prioritizing quality over quantity.


Mixed feelings about the F1 Pro midrange: Details are appreciated, but the overwhelming directness is not. Openness and separation are liked, but it lacks depth and feels lightweight. The upper midrange is more pronounced, leading to a shouty, sibilant presentation in the 4k-8k range.


The lower range highlights the treble with a powerful sizzle and sparkle, while there is a subtle rise in the treble frequencies above 13k. Nevertheless, the treble may become excessively sharp, leading to possible listener fatigue, particularly with the upper treble contributing artificial shimmer and glare.


The F1 Pro has excellent technical capabilities with accurate soundstage and precise imaging for detailed sound reproduction. It offers remarkable detail retrieval at an affordable price, although it can sound slightly harsh in the mid and treble ranges. However, the tone and timbre have a noticeable metallic quality.


The NiceHCK F1 Pro is a decent budget planar device. Nevertheless, the considerable flaws it possesses make it difficult for me to recommend. If you are in search of a budget planar in-ear monitor, I suggest looking into the Tin Hifi P1 Max and Kefine Klanar as alternatives.


Simphonio PB10:


The Simphonio PB10 will set you back $450 from the bank account. It is a planar and balanced armature hybrid with a 10mm planar Thunder driver from Sonion. It has an impedance of 12Ω, sensitivity of 101dB, and a frequency response range of 20Hz-20kHz.

When unboxing, the experience is ordinary despite the price. The outer sleeve shows the PB10 image and specs, while the box features "Simply Best Phonic."

Inside, the PB10 shells are revealed, with accessories stored underneath.

The accessories offered are underwhelming, but the leather carry pouch provides adequate protection for the PB10 given its compact size for carrying in a pocket.

Simphonio includes two sets of silicone tips in sizes S, M, and L. The white tips have a wider bore, while the grey tips with red stems feature a narrower bore. Grey tips produce more bass and lack airiness, while white tips offer a more balanced and open sound. I prefer the white tips.

The stock cable features an 8-strand 392-core high-purity 6N copper and silver wire configuration with a 4.4mm termination. It connects via 2 pins and includes ear hooks for good tension. The cable is sturdy and excels without twisting, tangling, or kinking.

The Simphonio PB10 has a striking design with hand-painted face plates and aluminum alloy shells that resemble smooth stones.

Despite being slightly heavy, they are comfortable to wear with a flat back that fits well.

Powering the Symphonio PB10 is less demanding compared to other planar IEMs. Most balanced dongles can drive it, but DAPs and desktop equipment offer the best performance.


The bass has an extended range with a satisfying rumble in the sub-bass, ample impact in the mid-bass, and a noticeable punch in the upper bass, maintaining excellent texture overall.


The midrange is positioned slightly forward, offering excellent distinction between instruments and vocalists with balanced and cohesive sound.


Treble is lively and vibrant, with pleasant extension and a generous sense of airiness and spaciousness, avoiding being overly hot or intense.


The PB10 excels in technical abilities. It offers a deep and wide soundstage, accurately representing venue sizes. Its imaging is outstanding, enabling precise tracking from side to side. The detail retrieval is exceptional, ensuring that nothing is missed. The resolution of details is remarkable, with no noticeable glassy, glaring moments but instead providing a nice bite, edge, and crispness. The tone and timbre are quite natural for a planar IEM.


It's clear that Simphonio has expertise in tuning. I believe that the PB10 would be more appropriately priced in the $200 range, as the current asking price of $450 is excessively high. Nevertheless, the Simphonio PB10 stands out with its unique planar and BA hybrid design. I suggest considering the PB10, but only if you can purchase it at a significantly reduced price.


Tipsy x EPZ Star & One:


The Tipsy x EPZ Star & One will set you back $89 from the bank account. It features a 10mm dual magnetic circuit dual cavity dynamic driver setup. It has an impedance of 64Ω, sensitivity of 112dB, and a frequency response range of 20Hz-40kHz.

The unboxing of the Star & One is quite ordinary. The black outer box features specs and a graph on the sides.

Inside, the Star & One is securely held in place by a foam insert, with a carrying pouch located underneath.

Additionally, the package contains S/M/L silicone tips with a wide bore, and I opted for the medium stock tip.

The provided cable is longer than usual. Despite being lightweight and thin, it is well-managed and seldom becomes tangled or twisted.

The Star & One stands out from many other IEMs in its price range due to its unique Weji Art Museum handmade faceplate and a 3D printed resin cavity.

The shells are light and thin, but they are not the most suitable for my ears due to their sideways teardrop shape. They feature a small wing at the back with a long nozzle that lacks significant angling. Comfort is satisfactory, but I can only wear the Star & One earphones for around 30 minutes before feeling uncomfortable.


Driving the Star & One can be challenging due to its impedance of 64Ω and sensitivity of 112dB. While most dongles can get it to loud volumes adequately, they reach peak performance when paired with more robust equipment, such as DAPs and desktop setups.


The Star &One was designed by Tipsy x EPV for the purpose of live broadcast monitoring. It features professional acoustic tuning from stage customization and a physical noise reduction sound chamber. I utilized it in conjunction with the Allen & Heath QU24 for monitoring my church services plus every day listening.


The bass of the Star & One stands out as powerful and commanding, delivering a punchy, penetrating, and thumping sound. The sub-bass offers plenty of rumble and grumble, while the mid-bass packs a significant impact. The upper bass is also present and tends to blend into the lower mids. However, the bass lacks some control and may exhibit a slight bloat, particularly on more complex, bass-driven tracks.


The midrange frequencies are recessed, particularly in the 200Hz-1.5kHz range. The lower midrange benefits from a touch of richness and warmth due to the bass spillover. The upper midrange is pronounced, with a tendency towards sibilance and a somewhat piercing quality. The midrange exhibits peaks and may pose challenges for individuals who are sensitive to heightened frequencies between 2k and 6k.


The high frequencies pose an issue at approximately 9k, followed by another peak at around 12k. The treble is somewhat lively and hot. There is a great deal of shimmer and a slightly airy extension. If you are easily affected by heightened treble, the Star & One may not be suitable for you.


The soundstage of the Star & One is expansive and immersive, effectively capturing a variety of venue sizes, from small to grand. Its impressive depth allows for a clear view of the stage with distinct elements. The layering is well-executed, ensuring a harmonious placement of sounds without any competition. Imaging is precise, enabling easy tracking of audio from one side to the other. Detail retrieval is exceptional, leaving no nuances overlooked. However, the resolution of these details falls short at times, resulting in occasional glare and smudging. The tone and timbre, while not the most natural, exhibit a metallic overtone in the upper frequencies and a somewhat artificial quality in the bass notes.


The Tipsy x EPZ Star & One is specifically designed for live broadcast monitoring. However, in my view, it lacks natural tone and timbre, with overly emphasized and artificial upper mids and treble, along with an excessive bass presence. Nevertheless, it serves well as a fun, everyday-carry IEM.


These were my brief thoughts on the Fiio JH5, NiceHCK F1 Pro, Simphonio PB10, and Tipsy X EPV Star One. While these products are not of poor quality, none of them particularly excel in comparison to the competition.


I am Dave the Honest Audiophile. Thanks for reading, and I will catch you in the next one. Don't forget to enjoy the music and that honesty is the BEST policy!


I am not a professional sound engineer, producer, musician, or vocalist, etc. I have not done any scientific research, measurements, or in-depth testing of any kind; just my own listening, comparing and internet reading/research.  I have limited, real-life experience with recording, mixing and mastering gear.  I have been involved since my teenage years with various churches as an amateur sound booth technician.


Please take these thoughts, opinions and reasonings as just that, my honest audiophile thoughts, opinions and reasonings.


Twitter: https://twitter.com/TalkDbs @TalkDbs


Recommended Gear:

Rosson Audio Design RAD-0: http://www.rossonaudiodesign.com/

Audeze LCD 2 Closed: LCD-2 Closed Back (audeze.com)

Massdrop THX AAA 789: 


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