The Typical Topical
- Excellent tuning and excellent sound.
- Good balance between all ranges, allowing each of them to be individually perceived closely and fully.
- Compact packaging with a large storage box and a beautifully detailed, high-quality cable.
- Balanced profile of analytical character, very detailed, with high definition and resolving power.
- On the downside, there are no foam tips.
Link to the Store
The well-known Dongguan-based portable audio brand Hidizs continues to add to its Mermaid Series IEMS line-up and is releasing a new hybrid model called the MS2. The model number reflects the number of drivers it has: 1 DD + BA. The dynamic driver is a 10.2mm unit, consisting of two coils and two chambers. Its diaphragm is the result of a new Hidizs development using a macromolecular compound, version 2.0. The BA driver is none other than the RAD-33518-P183 from Knowles. In this sense, Hidizs is leaving nothing to chance and is committed to adding quality to its drivers at a very reasonable price: $89. To finish with the capsules, these have been constructed with a German eco-friendly resin body, while the mouthpieces have been gold-plated. The connection chosen for the capsules is a 2pin 0.78mm. The cable used is a mix of four core strands: two are high purity silver wires and the other two are OFC cables. To complete the product, Hidizs has provided a very distinguished packaging, featuring a beautiful storage box, in a very compact and appropriate package.
- Driver Type: 1DD 10.2mm, Dual Voice Coils & Dual Voice Chambers (Hidizs Newly Developed Marcromolecule Composite Diaphragm V2.0 Version) + 1BA Knowles RAD-33518-P183.
- Frequency Response: 20Hz-40kHz
- Sensitivity: 112dB
- Impedance: 18Ω
- Jack Connector: 3.5mm SE, gold plated.
- Capsule Connection Type: 2Pin 0.78mm
- Weight of both capsules, excluding cable: approx. 10g.
The MS2s come in a hard white cardboard box, almost cubic in shape, whose dimensions are 124x124x76mm. On the front side of the box there is a real photo of a capsule with its cable. The model name is located in the lower left corner. In the upper right corner is the brand logo and in the lower right corner is the Knowles logo and the Hi-Res AUDIO logo. On the back side are the specifications, in Chinese and English, as well as the company’s address. After lifting the lid, one can see the capsules encased in a white mould, with the model name and the slogan «Relish Music, Beauty In The Details». Underneath the mould is a striking black hard plastic box with a white logo in the centre. It opens like a chest and is lined with rubber parts: the storage box for the IEMS, whose dimensions are an impressive Inside is the cable and two white cardboard blisters containing the silicone tips. When removing the box you can find the user manual and some warranty cards. In a summary:
- The two MS2 capsules.
- One 3.5mm SE jack cable.
- One storage box.
- Three pairs of narrow channel white silicone tips, sizes SxMxL.
- Three pairs of wide channel white silicone tips, sizes SxMxL.
- User manual.
- Warranty card.
I like the size and shape of the Hidizs MS2 packaging. I love the transport box, the only downside is that it is not very portable, due to its size and rigidity. But it is different and the rubber lined interior ensures the best way to protect the IEMS. I think that all the details of the packaging have been very well taken care of and the only thing that could be missing is a set of foam tips.
Construction and Design
The capsule of the Hidizs MS2 has the classic medium-sized semi-custom shape, the outer face of which is shaped like the African continent. It is very similar to the latest TFZ models I have reviewed previously. In fact, it is very similar in size, thickness and detail. The difference lies in the mouthpiece. This time it is a different, metallic, gold-plated piece. But back to the capsules, they are transparent, made of German ecological resin. My model is in transparent red, but I’m sure you can choose from a variety of colours. The outer face is a separate piece, but in the same colour, with a glitter pattern on the inside, which has reflections in shades of red and pink. The two-pin connection sits on a transparent oval plate attached to the rim of the capsule. «HIDIZS.COM» in silver lettering can be read near the connection. On the inner side of the capsules, there is a dot of the same colour. On the inside, there is a letter indicating the channel of the capsules. Nearby, there is a hole to release the pressure of the dynamic driver.
As I mentioned before, the mouthpieces are different pieces, metallic and gold plated. They are approximately 5.5mm long and consist of three parts. The base is a 1.5mm long ring with a diameter of 6.5mm. The central part is a cylinder of 2.5mm and 5.4mm in diameter. The outer crown is 1.5mm and 6mm in diameter. The mouthpiece bore is protected by a dense metal grille.
Together, the weight of both capsules, without the cable, is approximately 10 grams.
The cable consists of two strands coated with transparent insulation, wound together. Inside each of them, two thinner strands, each of a different colour, can be seen. One of them is made of high purity silver wires, the other of OFC wires. The plug is 3.5mm SE gold-plated. The connector sleeve that covers it is a 19.5mm long cylinder with a diameter of 9mm, which is made up of 4 pieces. The first and closest to the connector is black, almost 14mm long. Then there is a beautiful copper ring, just over a mm long. Again, there is another black cylinder, on the inside of which is written the name of the brand and has the characteristic that it is movable and can be rotated. Finally, the top ring is again copper, a colour I like much better than gold. The splitter piece follows the pattern of black and copper cylinders, but this time it is a symmetrical piece of 13mm in length and the same diameter. Its ends are each a copper ring of about 1mm, then comes a black cylinder on each side, ending with a larger copper ring in the middle. The pin is a 3mm copper ring with an oval hole in it, just big enough for the wires to pass through, but still able to hold them in place for a good fit. Each cable has its own transparent over-ear guide. The connectors are completely uncovered and the sleeve is transparent and semi-angled. On the inside there is a dot and a letter to indicate the channel. The blue dot and the letter L for the left channel, the red dot and the letter R for the right channel. The letters, as usual, are embossed and difficult to see, but the coloured dot is very useful to distinguish each side. Finally, the cable has a white Velcro strip, so that it can be safely tucked away. It reads «HIDIZS».
Really, I find the details of the cable quite different from the rest, as well as very elegant. I especially like the colour of the copper rings and the combination with the black. One negative point is that there are only two strands and that the pairs of each channel are «linked», even though they are made of different material.
Another point to consider is the storage box. Usually it is a cloth bag, a zippered case, even a leather case, sometimes a Pelikan box. But on this occasion it is a smooth, shiny, black plastic box, the top of which has a vertical micro-striped metal sheet with the brand’s logo inscribed in white ink in the centre. The inside of the case is covered with thick black rubber, which is able to protect our beloved IEMS MS2. Simply excellent.
Adjustment and Ergonomics
The MS2 has the classic fit provided by its medium sized semi-custom shape. All edges are rounded and barely touch the ear parts. The fact that the mouthpiece is a different piece and that its base is larger, ensures that the tips do not sink more than necessary, achieving a fit that can be shallow or medium, depending on the size of the tips used. Although the depth of the insertion will depend on our morphology, as their length is not very long.
Using the right tips, the fit is very secure. The weight is not noticeable at all. The guides on the ear barely rub and the rotation is minimal.
In short, the MS2 have adopted a shape that is usually common, but which guarantees a very successful ergonomics, improving the appearance of the mouthpiece top, even gaining some point of comfort.
I find the profile of the Hidizs MS2s to be fairly balanced, with a moderately punchy mid-high, with a noticeable, but not overly exposed, treble extension. Bass is above neutral and enjoys a good level of presence and appreciable texture, without being predominant in the overall sound.
The low end of the MS2 is characterised by a fairly homogeneous level, albeit centred in the mid-bass. It has a good accentuation in the lower range, as it has a slight roll-off at this point. The amount of bass is more than what could be considered neutral, but without dominating the sound. Technically it is quite fast, compact, restrained, agile and dry. Its decay is slight and its recovery remarkable. In this way, it is able to separate the different planes quite well and differentiate them without overlapping, in a remarkable exercise of reproduction. In this sense, the weakest point is in the colour and depth: although the timbre is natural, the tone feels slightly coloured towards the mid-bass, losing that bit of depth that would have made it an excellent and very rounded bass. However, the speed of execution and its technical ability do elevate it to an outstanding performance. On the other hand, the texture is quite smooth, although this can vary depending on the source used. With a cold source such as the Hidizs DH80S, the descriptive level is high, although the texture is smooth. With the xDuoo XP-2Pro, on the other hand, the MS2s gain in roughness but become somewhat slower and less defined, something that limits their quality, in my opinion, because it hinders their resolving power and technical capability.
The midrange of the MS2 is a reiteration of many models, in the search for balance between presence, mid-high overexposure, clarity, analytical ability, detail, warmth and timbre. And I believe that, where many other tunings have failed, Hidizs has found the right spot. The low end has just the right amount of presence to give some warmth and body to the low-mids, but without a hint of intrusion. There’s barely any hint of mid-range sag, despite the fact that these are not mid-centric IEMS. And the now-classic mid-high boost serves to bring clarity and liveliness, without any negative consequences or sibilance. Admittedly, this is not a distinctly warm mid-range, but I note a certain warmth that blends nicely with an analytical ability, which is capable of revealing a high level of micro detail and delicate nuances, thanks to its precise BA driver. Needless to say, the transition between both drivers is really smooth and the blend of both sounds is the result of a totally fruitful synergy. In this way, the two profiles blend together, bringing the best that each has to offer: warmth, body and naturalness on the one hand; analytical ability, clarity, separation, definition, resolution and detail on the other. All this without the sound suffering in homogeneity, balance and equilibrium. Nor in texture, which, at last, can be fully enjoyed, not only in the voices, but also in the instruments. And in this sense, the distance between the two elements is also more balanced, leaving the recordings to decide who takes the lead. Quite a delight.
Tuning a BA driver for midrange and treble in this price range can be tricky. It’ s all about finding the balance in the transition from the high-mids to the highs, while keeping presence, sibilance and natural timbre in check. On this occasion, the tuning is very appropriate because it manages to splash the top of the mids, throwing the treble into an advantageous position, making it feel sharp enough to be luminous, but without falling into an over-exposure that makes it too noticeable, within the overall sound. In this way, the high end expresses itself clearly and unabashedly, but without reaching a level to consider the MS2s as brilliant. They are more than just neutral and their initial rise is characterised by remarkable definition and precision. The first high notes are fast, sparkling, very fine and sharp enough to notice their brilliance, as well as a great speed of execution and instantaneous fade. In this way, the dynamics are very good and the mark is clear, but without being a high, very extensive or predominant presence. On the other hand, technically they are favoured by coming from a Knowles BA and their timbre is vivid, somewhat cool, but without falling out of the natural range.
The initial extension is perceived as controlled, preventing the sound from becoming blatantly high-pitched, something that would make it lose balance and naturalness. Then, as the MS2s reach the upper range, they recover a good amount of air, which is much appreciated, both in clarity, separation and, above all, in the timbre of the mid-range.
The amount of soundstage is adequate and very much in keeping with the balance of the sound. It is not vast, but it is well proportioned. The width is sensitive and the spatiality of the sound feels reinforced, both by its level of resolution, the amount of air, the good separation and the remarkable clarity. The three-dimensionality is clearly perceptible, but the depth is not greater than the width, which limits the image to be more spherical. Thus it is perceived as more oval, with a good lateral sensation, but without a very marked enveloping character, distinguishing itself more frontal than ethereal.
As I have been saying, the separation is quite good, and both the precision and the level of resolution facilitate an analytical tendency that gives a convenient sense of darkness and silence between notes. Also, as a result of these characteristics, the level of detail is important and is capable of revealing more or less obvious micro details, but without reaching a higher level of extraction that would turn the sound into a surgical one.
TFZ Live 3
One could almost say, considering the frequency response, that the Live is the bass brother of the MS2.
In terms of shape they are also similar, with the TFZs being slightly smaller and less thick. The big difference, however, is in the projection of the mouthpieces. On the Live 3 they are narrower, shorter and made of the same material as the body, while on the MS2 they are metallic, larger and longer, improving the insertion depth. But the larger diameter of the nozzles is something to take into account when choosing tips.
The Live 3’s cable is four-stranded, with silver-plated conductors. On the MS2 there are only two strands, but it is a hybrid 4-core cable: two are high-purity silver wires and the other two are OFC wires. The result is a thinner and more manageable cable. The connectors are of very good quality on both IEMS, but clearly different: on the MS2s, with their mix of copper and black, they surpass the classic silver finish of the TFZs in beauty and design.
As I indicated at the beginning, the Live 3 share a large part of the frequency response, from the mids onwards. But that doesn’t mean that they perform equally well in that area. And it’s not just because of the influence the low end can have on the rest of the sound. The fact that the MS2s have a BA driver is something that polarises their sound, making it more analytical, finer, more precise and more resolute.
The low end of the TFZs exceeds that of the MS2s in presence. But despite the big difference demonstrated in the graph, the MS2s are not bassless IEMS, as their response feels clear and very well executed. But when you switch to the TFZs, it’s clear who’s in charge in the low end, gaining a level of authority and presence that fills the space immensely, adding a level of oppression that borders on the physical. Although, as you might expect, the low end of the MS2s is technically very good, being very fast and accurate, with a natural timbre and a very good ability to recreate very distinguishable bass planes and lines.
In the mid-range the sound is darker in the Live 3, not because it is, but because the clarity of the MS2 is superior. It is clear that the bass impact in the mids of the MS2s is non-existent, while it is more unavoidable in the Live 3s. However, the timbre is similar in both models, it is their tendency where their difference lies. While the TFZs are warm, the Hidizs are cooler and more analytical. The lower sound density of the MS2s frees up the mids, making them clearer and more separated. The precision and level of resolution is also something that feels superior, in pursuit of a sound of greater resolution, clarity, separation and detail, where the technique overcomes the more analogue, organic and somewhat more muted sound of the Live 3. It is also clear that the relationship of the mids in the overall sound profile is different. The TFZs, with their W-profile and powerful low end, leave the mids further behind. But the graph is not to be underestimated and if the mids alone are analysed, the resemblance is great in its form. Although the performance and overall presence in the MS2s makes them the star of the show, gaining even in the development of texture, both vocals and instruments. Although it is clear that everyone will have to decide which type of sound they prefer: the smoothness in the reproduction of the Live 3 or the high explicit level of the MS2, within a more balanced profile.
In the treble the curve remains very similar, although this time the timbre does differ a little, with the MS2’s accentuating the coolness and revealing a higher level of precision, thinness, speed and resolution. In the balance of the ensemble, the MS2s’ treble stands out more clearly and their analytical level executes notes more sharply and narrowly, feeling crisper, more dynamic and more detailed. The extension of the treble is slightly greater in the MS2s, and the amount of air is more perceptible. In addition to the reduced presence of bass, this results in a sound with greater separation, a darker background, where the definition of the notes is more evident, as well as their edges and boundaries. As a consequence, the soundstage is perceived as wider, with a higher level of three-dimensionality and a more ethereal and immersive sound. A point is also gained in location accuracy and positioning, due to its increased analysis capability.
NS Audio NS3 Bass Enhanced Version
Another classic recommendation in my list of IEMS between $50 and $100 are the NS3, a warm IEMS, partly made of wood, which accentuates that taste for an organic and analogue sound, slightly dark, but very smooth and pleasant. Believe it or not, these NS3s are very light and comfortable. They have a slimmer and slimmer overall shape, although the mouthpieces are not designed for deep insertion.
Their sensitivity is clearly lower, requiring more power to match volumes.
In this case, apart from what can be seen in the comparison chart, the sound is very different, almost opposite. The NS3s are warm, sweet and smooth IEMS, while the MS2s are very explicit and analytical. In the quick changes between IEMS you can see the profile of each and how the sound changes from analogue to digital. But starting with the low end, the NS3s have a greater emphasis on sub-bass and a greater dominance throughout the lower range, something that creates a higher pressure and a deeper sound. You feel that their sub-bass is very well achieved, because its sonority is more perceptible, sensory and does not feel coloured, which is exactly what generates that level of depth and also darkness. The MS2’s bass is dominated by technique, which is very good in terms of speed and recovery, but you can’t feel the level of depth and impression that the NS3’s give.
In the mids, the greater warmth and the slightly higher presence in the initial part, gives a greater body to the voices, especially the male ones, in the NS3. But I think the most important thing in this range is the profile of each one and its relationship with the source used. If a neutral or warm source is used, the characteristics of the NS3s will be enhanced. If, on the other hand, an analytical source is used, it will favour the sound of the MS2s. And in this sense, the key is there, those who are looking for texture and depth, an organic and analogue sound, with soul, with smoothness, but without giving up a great level of clarity and transparency, will opt for the NS3s. However, those who want to be able to unravel details and notes with greater precision, fullness, resolving power, analysis, a greater sense of silence and a darker background will choose the MS2s. In the same direction the timbre changes between the two, but also the influence of the upper range of both instruments plays a part in this. The notes of the instruments have a very full and firm sonority, in the MS2s, which is something you can feel in the stringed instruments. Whereas in the NS3s, their sonority is softer and perhaps a little more distant. This characteristic prevails in other musical aspects, where the MS2s are presented closer and in the foreground, in the mid-range, and this range can be observed in a very exposed and explicit way.
In the high end, each model follows its own path: smoothness in the NS3 and presence in the MS2. The higher resolution and technical capacity of the BA driver in the MS2s is something that determines the sonority of the treble, its greater presence and expressive level. And yet, there is never a loss of control, nor does it become a problem with sibilance.
The MS2s have more treble extension and a little more air. But the level of separation and detail is not only determined by these characteristics, but the driver used contributes a lot in this regard. In this way, and despite the fact that the level of stage and separation in the NS3s is very good, it is noticeable that the technology continues to advance and that the MS2s are superior, improving, above all, in the three-dimensional positioning of the elements, gaining in a wider, higher, more precise, perceptible and ethereal stereo image.
In reviews there are phrases and comments that a good reviewer should try to avoid. And I, with the Hidizs MS2, am biting my tongue, because I don’t want to fall into the easiness of an unconditional recommendation based on those clichés. I’m going to try to focus on its excellent tuning. A priori, it seems classical within the current trend of present high mids and controlled bass. But the sound is not exactly like that: the low end has a higher power and the high mids do not feel as splashy as they seem. The result is a more balanced sound, which possesses a technical execution that surprises with its excellence, as its analytical capacity, its resolving power and definition, are of this condition. In this way, the presence in each range has a feeling of fullness and closeness, which allows the listener to enjoy all of them individually and also the many details and nuances of the music, in a clear display of balance and homogeneity. But all this does not come alone, but in a very compact packaging, with a different transport box and a cable with very elegant details.
Yes, it’s very difficult for me not to say that the Hidizs MS2 is one of the best…
Sources Used During the Analysis
- Hidizs DH80S
- S.M.S.L Sanskrit 10th MKII + iFi ZEN CAN
- E1DA #9038D
- xDuoo XP-2Pro
- Ikko ITM05 Music Patch