A New Old Friend?
- Big, old-school bass, very voluminous and energetic.
- The treble is better than expected, even though it is soft.
- Very good construction.
- Good cable.
- Good insertion and isolation.
- The capsules are large and bulky, protruding from the ears.
- The mids are far away.
- The timbre in the middle range is dark, far from natural.
- The bass is oppressive, tending to displace the rest of the ranges.
- Resolution and definition are average.
Link to the Store
7Hz is a brand widely known for its Timeless model, one of the most popular 14.2mm planar driver IEMS on the market. Based in Qingdao, 7Hz has released other IEMS models before, such as its «i» series. Today, its products enjoy much more visibility than in the past and each model generates a relative buzz. Timeles AE, Salnotes Zero, Eternal are other successful models. They even have a collaborative model with Crinacle, called Salnotes Dioko. Up to the present 7Hz Legato, a double dynamic driver with a 12mm woofer + a 6mm tweeter/midrange driver. Accompanied by a powerful N52 magnet, the Legato houses a unique crossover, with 8 audio quality tantalum capacitors made in Japan. All of this is housed in an ergonomic aviation-grade aluminium capsule. Let’s take a closer look at this new 7Hz model.
- Driver Type: 1 x 12mm dynamic driver (woofer) with custom 4th generation DLC multi-layer composite diaphragm + 1 x 6mm dual cavity dynamic driver (tweeter/midrange) with custom high stiffness, low mass metal diaphragm. N52 magnet.
- Frequency Response: 10Hz-20kHz
- Sensitivity: 108dB/v@1kHz
- Impedance: 26Ω (1kHz)
- THD: <1% (1kHz)
- Jack connector: 3.5mm SE gold-plated.
- Cable: OCC+ silver-plated OCC
- Capsule Connection Type: 2Pin 0.78mm
- Capsule Material: Aircraft-grade CNC Aluminium
The 7Hz Legato comes in a medium-sized, black, glossy box with dimensions 152x111x55mm. On the main side, you can see the brand’s logo, in shiny silver ink, located in the upper left corner. Below and vertically, you can read the name of the model, in gradient gold. At the top is the model description and in the centre are the two capsules. On the back is an exploded view of the inside of the capsule, with explanations in Chinese. Underneath are the specifications, also in Chinese, and finally the brand’s contact details.
Inside the box there is only a large, maroon marbled transport box. It’s not as big as the KiiBOOM box, it’s about halfway there. On the top side is the brand logo, in gold ink, and below that, the model. After opening the zip you find the product and the rest of the accessories. In a nutshell:
- The 2 Legato capsules.
- 1 4-strand cable and a velcro strap.
- 3 pairs of blue silicone tips, sizes SxMxL.
- 4 pairs of white translucent silicone tips, sizes XSxSxSxMxL.
- 2 pairs of mouthpiece filters.
- 2 pairs of mouthpiece grids.
- 1 instruction manual.
- 1 zippered box.
The box has two compartments, on the left side there is a black grid, which goes halfway up. Inside is the manual, the bag with the tips and the filters for the mouthpieces. On the other side, protected by a transparent rigid plastic cover with flaps, are the earphones, with their cable and tips. The IEMS rest on a soft grey cradle, which has an internal design for a perfect pick-up of the IEMS. The case is very large, rigid, strong, sturdy, but a little heavy. To its credit, the headphone cradle can be removed, leaving an open box, which can be used to store a DAP, dongles or other similar products.
Construction and Design
It’s worth noting that the Legato has that distinct design reminiscent of the other 7Hz models. The capsules have a large, flat outer face. It is made in a separate piece, with a pattern of concentric circles. Its shape is an equilateral triangle with very rounded corners. The capsules are quite thick and the nozzles are very projected, allowing for a medium insertion. In one corner of the rim is the 2Pin 0.78mm connection. It is on a projected cylinder. The gold-plated connections are inside a piece of rigid plastic. A red dot declares the polarity of the pins. Along the same edge you can read the model, written in white ink. On the other side, also on the edge, there are three holes. You can see how the capsule is assembled in parts. The inner side is thick and round, the entire surface is polished and its texture is subtly rough, resistant to fingerprints because of its slippery treatment. Near the nozzles there is another hole, this time smaller than the side ones. The nozzles are mounted on a projection and are actually short. Their length is 4mm. The inner diameter is 5.5mm and the outer diameter is 6.2mm. They have a grid with spiral spokes and a circle in the centre. Underneath, there is a whitish micro-perforated filter.
The cable has 4 intertwined strands. They are of a dark copper colour. They are quite manageable and do not tend to take shape. The plug sleeve is a cylinder with a surface that matches the capsules. In the centre is the brand logo. The 3.5mm SE plug is gold plated. The splitter piece is another identical cylinder, but this time you can read the model name in white letters. The pin is a ring of the same material and external treatment, small, but very effective, as it slides with difficulty. The cable has guides on the ear, made of semi-hardened plastic. The sleeves of the 2Pin connectors are formed by two metal rings, together with a black, rigid, slightly curved plastic piece, whose design is perfectly integrated with the body of the capsules.
The surface treatment of the capsules and their dark metallic colour are worth mentioning. The flat outer face, the projection of the mouthpieces and the full thickness of the capsules. The weight is also striking, its metal construction and size penalising this aspect. However, this is not a problem for the ergonomics. In any case, the construction is excellent, it has a design with personality, elegant and striking, quite personal.
Adjustment and Ergonomics
As already mentioned, the capsules of the Legato are thick and long. The base where the mouthpieces are located is very projected and allows a deeper insertion. But, from there, the mouthpieces are short and of medium diameter. I tried a medium insertion, with smaller tips. But, the result has not been good in terms of sound. In fact, I had to use my classic large tips, filled with foam, which I make myself. With them I have achieved the full bass sound that the Legato is capable of generating. In the same way, I have also gained in isolation.
It is true that this surface fit allows some oscillation and movement of the capsules in my ears. Also, it is noticeable that the capsules are quite far away from the pinna, and they clearly and visibly overhang it. This does not affect the sound or the comfort, at least not in my case. Because the fit is quite stable and doesn’t fall out, the over-ear guides help to anchor the whole thing. By the way, its curvature is very pleasant and does not bother at all over the hours.
Perhaps the most negative point is the length of the capsules and their poor integration with the pinna and the ears, as they are quite far apart.
The 7Hz Legato has an L-shaped profile suitable for bass heads. With its two dynamic drivers, a large 12mm driver for bass and a 6mm driver for midrange and treble, its profile is clearly defined. The impression is that the Legato is intended to be a two-way speaker, where it is normal to use one dynamic driver for bass/midrange and one for treble. Here it seems that the larger driver is used for bass, while the smaller one is relegated to the rest of the frequencies. The problem? Clearly, it’s the sinking of the mids. Just as the treble is soft, but has a more than acceptable representation, the midrange suffers from the mix of bass, its warmth and darkness. Admittedly, the high end does not help to dissipate this duller, more subdued feeling, but another representation of the upper end would have drawn a clearer U-profile.
Finally, it should be noted that the Legato’s need a little extra power for their performance to be superior.
The sub-bass is the star of the show in the Legato, while the bass-midrange is no slouch either. As these 7Hz are made for enjoyment, their execution is rubbery and rumbling, not technical, refined, fine or detailed bass. The bass is all about impact, the impression it leaves, the presence, the volume it occupies, the power it demonstrates, the weight it possesses.
In the reproduction of pure tones the reproduction is surprising, I expected them to sound more physical and sensory. The reproduction is more realistic at the extreme end of the LFOs than at the higher frequencies. As the Hertzs pass, the bass colour becomes more apparent, which is definitely a negative surprise. At some point I even wonder if both drivers are sounding at the same time and the frequency divider is not activated. In any case, this is, as usual, a specific test, the results of which have a relative impact on the sound of the music in general.
Going back to the description of the lower range, the volume they occupy within the music is large. And this fact can be oppressive for the other frequencies, if the music has bass, vocals and instruments. It works very well for electronic music without vocals. To give an example, Massive Attack songs have the behaviour of Legato bass implicit in their name: they are massive, intimidating and oppressive. Yes, the vocals are there, but they have to bear the volumetric weight of a bass that is like a hot air balloon. Massive Attack’s «Better Things» holds its own quite well. The Legato’s are able to follow and reproduce this song’s shattering bass lines. While on «Sly», it becomes apparent how the bass volume crowds out Nicolette’s voice, pushing it to the side.
Something similar happens when I enjoy genres such as Amapiano. In this case, it contrasts that the female voices tend to be of higher range and the mix is balanced, except when the sub-bass appears.
I like the bass, and very much so, but I understand that on certain occasions its size is too much. And the punch, its footprint and the elasticity of its hit doesn’t help either.
However, there are times when these Legato’s are very enjoyable: they are great companions for sports, walking, running, weight training or outdoor activities. The power and pace of the Legato is a great partner and helps to maintain vigour in these situations.
On technical matters, as I have already mentioned, the Legato is capable of dealing with heavy bass, complex and unfiltered lines. It is able to keep up with the rhythm, even if this can be thunderous and its energy very high. It is not a fuzzy, more defined or too continuous bass, it is relatively agile and fast for its size and weight. But the notes are relatively thick, physical and full of energy, which can be tiring.
The Legato mids, on their own, i.e. without bass influence, are warm, smooth, relatively thick and dark. I miss a touch of sparkle in the female voices and a more technical approach, rather than melodious, cohesive and harmonious. They have a subdued glow, something that makes them more muted and dense, limiting their projection and clarity. Timbre and sonority are more naturally camouflaged in male voices. This density and physical fullness can even help to generate a closer, more projected and protagonist representation. It is true that the details and nuances of both voices are not very explicit, but I am surprised that the instrumental micro detail is incipient and tries to stand out more than in other, theoretically, more technically skilled ensembles. So, as long as the lows don’t suffer from the bass influence, the mids can stand out as a melodious, warm, subdued and slightly dark ensemble.
There is body and physicality in the first half of the mids, the notes are rounded and relatively thick, not too far apart. The level of transparency or clarity in the second half is not very high, contributing to a darker feel to the whole, but free of sibilance and fatigue from excessive bell gain. In this way, isolated listening to the mids can become very musical, melodious, relaxed and smooth, suitable for extended listening. It is true that it lacks a certain higher level of transparency and clarity, so that it is capable of exporting a higher amount of information, as well as a more explicit and shimmering texture. This is not the case; the roundness, weight and thickness of the notes make the texture smooth and velvety, yet full-bodied and with a physical, dense, even opulent rumour.
The energy of the treble contrasts with that of the bass. There is certainly a lot of power in the low end, but the treble is well represented. They possess a limited level of energy and their vertical extension is not enough to classify them as crisp. But their restraint is not withdrawn in their initial zone, nor in the midrange. Just as in other bass-head ensembles, the treble has only an initial sparkle, followed by a clear drop in presentation, the Legato has chosen to maintain a soft, but prolonged profile. In this way, their sonority is much more realistic and balanced, very much in tune with the colour of the mids. There is a synergy between the two bands and it can well be explained by the fact that the driver is shared for both ranges.
The treble alternates between slight peaks and valleys, but extends with a certain linearity up to 10kHz, which explains why both the timbre of the mids and the treble, despite the warmth and darkness of the whole, has quite realistic characteristics, especially in the first treble. Certainly, for my taste, the first phase of the treble presents itself as a much more accurate range than the midrange as a whole. Although, it could be even better if the sparkle at 6khz were more rounded. Be that as it may, the treble is light in presence, but well represented, even if, at times, a little attention is needed to focus on it.
Lastly, there is a flash of air that I feel is insufficient to give the scene a more ethereal feel.
The physical sensation and the amount of bass volume create a somewhat polarised scene. The space occupied by the low end is large and certainly oppressive. The energy level is capable of pushing the rest of the musical components aside. The perception is not only deep, but the bass also occupies the foreground and even the side areas. This means that the image is sometimes supplanted, as many elements are displaced by the volume and space occupied by the bass. In lighter bass compositions, the elements return to their natural space, generating a more coherent and realistic image. Although the separation is not very great, the micro detail tends to stand out, to be intuited, but not fully developed. In those songs that we know very well, such nimble elements try to present themselves, but without coming to the fore. But, the good thing is that they don’t feel ignored, nor are they imperceptible. In this way a certain technical skill is reflected, which is not entirely sufficient. You know that these details are there, but you need to notice them, or even imagine them. At other times, though, they may not even appear because of the presence and energy of the bass. On the other hand, it also doesn’t help that the sense of transparency, brightness and clarity is low. The elements have a tendency to be clumped together by the softness, base and density of the sound. Although, I must also admit that it is not a completely cohesive sound with no gaps, but there is a certain amount of air and space between elements to add quality and realism to the final sound. And I think the quality of the treble helps a lot in these aspects.
Is there anything new under the sun? Surely there is, but this is not the case. The Oriolus Finschi are 2019 IEMS with a hybrid configuration that combines a 10mm dynamic driver with a Knowles BA driver. They are nothing alike in external construction, the Finschi are made of resin and are lighter. They also belong to a higher price range and could be bought for less than 200$. But how do you compare an IEMS from 4 years ago, worth $170, with a current $110 IEMS? Well, basically, because their FR is quite similar.
In terms of presentation, despite the passage of time, the Finschi had a good set of accessories, with a distinctive case and for its custom fit, filled with foam. The cable was of the period, black, thinner and not very noticeable. Nothing to do with the cable of the Legato. Their ergonomics are superior, as they are smaller and lighter, they fit more perfectly in my ears. The biggest problem is the driver flex.
In terms of sensitivity, the Finschi are slightly more sensitive. If we talk about profile, both are very similar, but I would say that the Finschi are subtly lighter and cleaner in the bass, somewhat more prominent in the mids and quite smooth in the treble. But, it is clear that their sound is not completely the same.
The Legato’s bass is bigger and thunderous, it feels more spacious, energetic and powerful. They also have more volume and generate that feeling of pushing the rest of the elements aside because of their oppressive tendency. The Finschi’s are not like that, their bass is more respectful and clean, more restrained and dry. It doesn’t seem as deep, but it is less rubbery, more technical and agile. If you want bass that fills the scene, as well as power, the Legato is your IEMS. If, on the other hand, you are looking for bass presence, but lighter and more respectful, the Finschi is more appropriate.
The transition between bass and midrange in the Finschi is much better than in the Legato. There is not as much warmth, even though the Oriolus are not luminous IEMS. But there is more cleanness in this band change and a lower incidence of bass in the midrange. Male voices are more physical and fuller-bodied in the Legato, with such a dense and full base. Not that in the Finschi, they are a luminous feast, but they are clearly perceived to be finer and with a more correct and natural timbre. The details are finer and their edges move away from the density and roundness of the Legato, something that gives them a sense of greater dynamics, agility and technical ability. With female voices, this effect is superior. The Finschi offers more clarity and transparency in them, while the Legato remains anchored in that dense base that offers less nuance and liveliness. Without the difference being overwhelmingly towards the light, both timbre and colour in the Finschi are more appropriate, finer and more delicate. The articulation of the notes is more remarkable, as well as their speed and dynamics.
In terms of detail, the Finschi wins because their profile is cleaner and more transparent. In addition, their bass is not as oppressive. It cannot be said that they are an analytical profile, but their level is quite acceptable. Although, at the limit, at the micro level they are not much better than the Legato, in general, they have a higher and, more importantly, more evident quantity, without becoming forced or unnatural. It should be noted that the BA driver works in a very restrained way, achieving a natural tonality, more technical, more resolute, without artifice.
In the treble, I find it amusing to think that the timbre changes for the better in the Legato and that its extension is greater. Meanwhile, the Finschi sound more compressed and clipped. There is not a very high variation in their energy level, but I do feel a more pleasant naturalness in the Legato. Whereas in the Finschi, their execution is more nuanced, generating a shorter, less expansive, more limited level of harmonics. There is also a sense of lower air.
At scene level there is more depth in the Legato, but the image is more defined and precise in the Finschi. Transparency is superior, as is the level of cleanliness, which creates a feeling of greater openness and a more separated, wider and clearer environment. There is more compression and congestion in the Legato, which concentrates the scene and detracts from its expansiveness and three-dimensionality. In the Finschi, on the other hand, there is a higher degree of freedom, which gives it a more ethereal, gaseous and three-dimensional feel.
The 7Hz Legato is a specialised bass IEMS. Not just any bass, but a very voluminous type of bass that reminds me of what loudspeakers were like when I was a kid. For many years I lived with Infinity SM-80s that had a 203mm bass/midrange driver and a 25mm tweeter (only). I used to spend hours and hours annoying the neighbours with electronic music from the late 80’s and early 90’s. Well, these Legato’s remind me of that sound. I had a small room and the bass echoed throughout the place. It’s clear that the sound of the Legato has been something sought after, something that tries to remind me of that feeling of my adolescence. But does this sound fit today? Why not. You don’t have to be 50 years old to enjoy these IEMS, but you do have to have an idea of how they sound, how invasive their bass is, their level of darkness, their density in the midrange, their greater distance, their rounder and smoother sound. However, if I have to highlight something else about these Legato, apart from their cable and level of construction, it is their treble, something that surprises on its own.
Sources Used During the Analysis
- Aune X8 XVIII Magic DAC + EarMen ST-Amp.
- Aune Flamingo.
- Hidizs AP80 PRO-X Red Copper LE.
- TempoTec Variations V6.
- Xduoo Link2 BAL.
- Burson Audio Playmate.