A Tough Rival
- Great sound for the price.
- Good technicality.
- Textured bass.
- High energy in the treble.
- Excellent design and construction.
- Remarkable packaging and accessories.
- 3 different tunings.
- Very easy to move, high sensitivity.
- Very good cable, with choice of 4.4mm balanced cable.
- The cable can be a bit stiff.
- There is too much difference between the Charm Red and Rose Gold filter, something in between would have been better.
- Treble energy and extension can be high for some. An additional filter could solve this.
- No zippered case.
- Sink noted in the centre, softer tuning in this range would have brought more coherence.
- Bass is extended and focused in the middle, tuning leaning towards the sub-bass could work.
Link to the Store
In my humble opinion, the Hidizs MS2 has been one of the brand’s best hybrids and, now that they are available at a better price, a great choice in analytical profile sound. Now, Hidizs has released the MS3, adding one more driver. In fact, especially on the outside, the MS3’s look much more like the recent MS5’s, than the earlier MS2’s. As a dynamic driver Hidizs has used a 10.2mm driver with dual magnetic circuits and dual cavities developed independently by Hidizs. Its diaphragm is a bio-nanofibre composite. It also uses a Knowles SWFK-31736 composite balanced armature driver. They are responsible for the high-frequency and extremely high-frequency output. This is a very classic Knowles composite BA unit. The capsule and the panel of the IEMS are made of aluminium alloy, CNC milled with a five-axis CNC. The capsule has been anodised and its shape adjusted to the ergonomics of the human ear. The design of the outer panel is recognisable with the three-dimensional shape similar to the MS5. The MS3 is also equipped with three types of interchangeable pneumatic sound tuning filters: Balanced – Rose Gold, High Frequency – Quiet Silver, Low Frequency – Charm Red. With them, Hidizs approaches the Harman 2019 standard curve. Finally, it uses an oxygen-free copper multi-conductor cable with 192 ultra-small wires (UP-OFC) and is finally available in 3.5mm SE and 4.4mm BAL terminations. Let’s see what else Hidizs’ new IEMS has to offer.
- Driver Type: 1DDD with 10.2mm dual magnetic circuit, dual cavity (Hidizs 3rd generation PEEK+PU polymer composite diaphragm driver) + 2BA Knowles SWFK-31736.
- Frequency Response: 20Hz-40kHz.
- Sensitivity: 112dB.
- Impedance: 18Ω.
- High purity oxygen-free copper cable, 4-wire mixed stranding, 1.2m length.
- Jack connector: selectable between SE 3.5mm and BAL 4.4mm.
- Capsule Connection Type: 2Pin 0.78mm
- Approx. weight: 15g.
The Hidizs MS3 comes in a black, square case reminiscent of its big brother MS5 in type and presentation. It does not have such golden motifs, being somewhat more earthy and less ambitious (more sobriety is appreciated). The dimensions of the case are 127x128x83mm. On the main side you can see a capsule on the outside panel and its cable around it. In the upper left corner is the brand logo, in gold. At the bottom you can see the Hi-Res Audio and Knowles logos, as well as a short description of the model. Finally, in the bottom right corner is the model name, inside a rectangle with rounded corners.
On the back side are the specifications in several languages.
After lifting the lid, the IEMS are embedded in a foam mould protected by black cardboard. Underneath is the model name, in holographic ink, and the brand slogan. Under this first layer is the template with three sets of silicone tips and the tuning filters. On the bottom layer is another black cardboard box, with the brand logo in the middle. In it are the rest of the accessories. To sum up:
- Hidizs MS3 capsules.
- Three pairs of white silicone tips (vocal ear tips), sizes SxMxL.
- Three pairs of black silicone tips (bass ear tips), sizes SxMxL.
- Three pairs of white silicone and black core tips (balanced ear tips), sizes SxMxL.
- Three pairs of tuning filters (Balanced – Rose Gold, High frequency – Quiet Silver, Low frequency – Charm Red).
- One oxygen-free copper multiconductor cable with 192 ultra-small wires (UP-OFC).
- Leatherette pouch.
- User manual.
- Social media card.
Very good presentation, this time more compact. The 3 pairs of tips for tuning the sound are very welcome. But some silicone tips are missing. What I liked the least is that there is no hard case with a zip. Instead there is a little black leather pouch with metal plates as a closure. I don’t think this is the best case for IEMS of this level.
Construction and Design
The capsule design borrows from its big brother MS5. The outer panel has the black, three-dimensional structure of the fallen angel wings, but this time, without holes. The outer face is opaque and sealed. Its rim is metallic and has that pinkish-gold touch. The outer shape is similar, with a more stylised lower apex African continent profile. The 2Pin connection is on an oval translucent plastic plate and its connections are gold-plated. The inner surface is black, micro-sandblasted, with a touch between matt and glossy. There is a hole in the centre, in the skirt of the nozzles. There is another hole on the shorter edge. Above it is the model name and the white mole with the lettering indicating the channel.
The nozzles are metallic, matching the pinkish-gold colour. Their length is 5mm. The inner diameter is 5.6mm and the interchangeable nozzles have a diameter of 6.2mm. All nozzles have metal grids and a plastic washer.
The cable is also very reminiscent of its big brother and has the 2Pin connector embedded in a shark-shaped sleeve. On each is a red letter R and a blue letter L. The cable consists of 4 strands of high-purity oxygen-free copper wire, manufactured with UP-OFC technology. The diameter of a single core is 0.08mm. The cable has a diameter of 6mm and a length of 1.2 metres. It is equipped with a gold-plated headphone jack with a choice of SE 3.5mm and BAL 4.4mm.
The plug sleeve is a shiny black cylinder with a gold-coloured ring near the end. On the ring that returns to its colour, next to the cable outlet, the brand name is written in white letters. The splitter piece is a dark gold, smooth, medium-sized, shiny and polished metal cylinder. Less than half its length is the latch ring, of the same colour. It has semi-rigid transparent guides on the ear.
The design is inspired by the look and appeal of its big brother. These capsules are smaller and more ergonomic. The cable is improved with a choice of 4.4mm BAL connector.
Adjustment and Ergonomics
The fact that it is smaller than the MS5 improves the initial ergonomics. They fit very easily and their surface is smooth and skin-friendly. The fit is fast, firm, durable, non-rotating and sits well in the pinna. The insertion is superficial, with the possibility of becoming medium, depending on the morphology of each individual. Tip interchangeability is not critical and an entertaining game can be obtained by interchanging the standard tips, as well as others from our collection. The nozzles have an adequate width, although I would have preferred a few millimetres more length. In any case, the result is quite ergonomic and the comfort is long-lasting.
On the other hand, the cable still has a good degree of stiffness and the sleeving of the connectors, especially the plug, makes it a bit heavy. The best thing is that, on this occasion, the shark shape of the sleeve on the 0.78mm 2Pin plugs doesn’t get in the way.
The brand makes this task easy, stating that the MS3s are based on the Harman 2019 response. For my part, I could say that the mid profile of the MS3s, with the Rose Gold and Quiet Silver nozzles, has a W tendency, while with the Charm Red filter the peaks are filed down and it approaches a more V response. With regard to the curve, the peak in the centre of the V is striking, something that presages this profile as a basic one.
I always say that I love bass, but I couldn’t live without midrange either. On many occasions, the filter that provides the most bass is usually my favourite. On this occasion, I’ll stick with the filter that provides the most balanced sound, the Rose Gold. With the Quiet Silver filter, the differences are not like night and day, but there is a tuning of the notes, a thinning of the voices, especially the male ones, as well as a softening of the bass. Silver seems to make the MS3s lose weight, volume and density, becoming thinner and sharper. But it is also more abrupt and penetrating. The MS3s with the Quiet Silver filter sit on the subtle edge that separates analytical enjoyment from a more exposed, explicit and demanding sensation, requiring a more permissive listener willing to endure a more exalted and powerful brilliance. I must comment that such a demand may be too much for some more sensitive ears. For others, it may only be a more ephemeral sensation, while there may always be those who enjoy this profile. To be honest, I am not among them. But, clearly, there is an audience for this filter and for them, enjoyment is assured. Returning to the Rose Gold is like sweetening the sound, the regime is over and we return to a more natural line, with rounder curves, but recovering exuberance, above all, in the first half of the frequency response. The treble is not as bold and now feels supported by a higher, denser and more perceptible volumetric feel. Texture is more pronounced and descriptive. The weight of the notes has been lifted and their profile is now rounder. The treble still has edge, power and presence, but it no longer feels as prominent, with more body behind it.
The MS3s with the Charm Red filters assume a higher sound distance. The difference between these filters and the others is quite pronounced. There is hardly any of the explicit brightness left in the treble, it is now much softer and quieter. I would go so far as to say that the sound is now even muted, there is no trace of that characteristic sparkle, everything is more rounded, bland and restrained. There is no sparkle and detail is minimised. With this filter there is also another effect, and that is a loss of sensitivity, the sensation that you hear more bass. It seems as if you have to turn up the volume of the source to regain the presence of the mid-highs and highs. However, it is the bass that swells, becomes heavier and tends to take up more space, displacing the mids and losing a more precious balance that exists with the Rose Gold nozzles.
Sometimes filters do not make much difference. Sometimes they focus on a small part of the spectrum. On this occasion there are two similar filters that complement each other quite well. If the third one, the Charm Red, had followed the same pattern between these differences, it would have been very interesting and useful. However, the distance is much greater, so much so that it even seems to be a different model, losing the surprise that it would have provided a filter subtly softer than the Rose Gold at the top and with a little more punch at the bottom.
There is one thing I would like to criticise or comment on, related to the filter models. They are hardly ever perfected. A brand releases a set of nozzles with filters and rarely rectifies or improves them with a second batch. In this case, a filter that would slightly tilt the Rose Gold towards the bass and soften the mid-high and treble would be very welcome. The essence of the MS3s would not be lost, and there would be a gain in balance and a preference for a gentler, even warmer profile, more suitable for long listening.
The following description of the bands has been made using the Rose Gold filter.
After going back from the Charm Red filters to the Rose Gold filters, the bass gains speed and loses the rubberiness that slowed down the base punch. The slimming diet works and the low end is stylised, gaining precision, agility and resolution. A more accurate and descriptive texture returns. Even the impact, being cleaner and drier, becomes more perceptible, better integrated into the sound. It is no longer a volumetric mass that masks, even engulfs the other frequencies, but is now perceived as a reference band, enriching the sound, rather than overpowering it. Of course, the sound gains in dynamics and the bass in recovery. Everything is naturally more in tune, even if it’s not the more technical lower range that you might see in some rivals.
In the very low-frequency pure tone test, the dynamic driver is outstanding, as far as natural performance is concerned. The sound is real and powerful at 40Hz, while below that it loses punch and becomes less noticeable. This means that the bass is not as deep, and there is also a loss of viscerality at the lower end. On the other hand, the mid-bass has a remarkable behaviour, conforming to a regular and logical, accurate pattern that produces a fairly full feeling, with a juicy, slightly explicit texture. Overall, the sub-bass is not as sensory as I would like, but the ratio of fullness, power, punch and presence is on par with good dynamic drivers, gently above neutral. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bass ensemble, although the low-end extension means they have mass, volume, extension and a degree of nice clean warmth. The MS3s won’t be anaemic with electronic music and will show that they have meat, power and punch, but they won’t make your fillings pop, because that’s not what they’re about, but an extended range, with good presence, but polite, after all.
The relaxed, fairly linear and extended bass curve of the MS3s stretches into the mids, introducing flesh and mass to the low end. This is where the key body and physicality is gained for the instruments in this part, as well as for the male vocals. Though it’s not overdone so that the density is great, nor too bulky, but adds a point of warmth that doesn’t tarnish and feels counterbalanced by the sparkle and clear lift, both physical and technical, of the upper-mids. In this way, one feels the weight of the notes in the strings, basses, as well as an enriching texture full of detail, nuance and light. The central cut is very clear and that inflection point can generate some sensation of hollowness in certain songs, while, in many others, the result is more satisfactory and adequate, managing, on the one hand, to maintain presence and body, on the other, exhibiting clarity, light, the spark needed to expand the sound, separate it, fill it with resolution and a striking, even evident, technical level.
I insist again on the idea that the central range could be polarised, because of its V tendency and its indisputable rise towards the treble. But somehow a balance is found between the weight of the notes and the persistence of the detail. This step is overdone with the Quiet Silver filter and it is here that I miss a filter that softens the top end a notch and adds a degree more base in the first half of the mids. The result could be very satisfactory.
The performance with the Rose Gold filter is a mid-range that enjoys a good foundation, spiced up with a well-resolved canopy gain boost. There are times when the upper band could be splashy, high, even noticeable, reaching a sibilant limit. But, I stress again that the extension of the bass and the weight of the first half of the central range manage to neutralise the negative aspects of this effect. On the contrary, and as I have already indicated, a sense of clarity, light and explicit brightness prevails, treasuring detail and micro-matices, but without reaching an analytical or cold performance. At times, it can border on that aspect, especially with the Quiet Silver filter. But it is due to the forced and obvious product of mid-high and treble extension and power.
In conclusion, Hidizs has managed to combine two ambivalent effects, to give the mids an initial strength that gives them a physical part, with weight and texture, with another energetic and powerful high part, which gives them clarity, light, sparkle, detail, resolution and a remarkable technical ability.
Without a doubt, the treble is the most explicit part of the MS3, except with the Charm Red filter, which practically mutilates it. The energy level is evident and persistent in the first and second half of the upper range and only loses strength in the air zone. In this respect, the proximity of the driver in the nozzle can add to the sense of presence and tenacity of the treble, as well as its BA timbre. But the choice of Knowles for these drivers is a guarantee of realistic treble balance. Although its leaning towards the light may even be excessive for some (the Quiet Silver filter enhances this sensation), the high range is crisp, explicit, subtly penetrating, clean, clear and evident. It is not completely dry, nor does it possess a clinical or surgical resolution that separates them individually. MS3 don’t quite get there, but they come closer, by energy and projection, than by superior technical skill. I’m not saying they don’t, for the price, the level of detail is evident in many situations, as I’ve already mentioned. However, it can also feel a little forced by the superior exaltation of this range, being able to isolate it from the rest of the notes, in a demanded or imposed way, which takes away a point of realism and naturalness, both in the recreation of the nuances, and in the timbre, with more tendency towards brightness and excitement, than to calmness and realism.
The scene is wide and volatile, while lacking a certain depth, if one is strict in this sense. The sound appears more holographic and three-dimensional than extended on the frontal axis. The width is expanded by the good laterality of the image, as well as by the expansion of detail, something that helps the sound to be ethereal and vaporous. Somehow, it doesn’t have as much of a basis for demonstrating a powerful foundation that offers a sense of a wall of sound or a more cohesive image. On the contrary, the music has a subtle tendency to escape from the head, though without completely surrounding it or generating a 360° image. In this way, it is implied that there is a high level of separation, the notes have a remarkable level of resolution, the sound is clean, the background is discernible and dark, and the details are very well represented. At the limit, some micro detail can be missed in the central area, perhaps due to tuning effects. But even if the technique feels subtly forced, also because of this tuning, there is no doubt that the MS3 possesses a remarkable technical department, as well as an ability to satisfy the most demanding ears in these qualities. They also excel in the dynamic and transient response aspects, from the mids onwards, thanks to their speed. Not so much in the low end, though.
The KiiBOOM Evoke is one of my favourite IEMS that I have reviewed this year. There are several similarities with the Hidizs MS3: their starting price is the same, $169. Although it is true that the MS3s have had an excellent initial promotional price, lower than the Evoke. On the other hand, the Evoke has three versions, one of which is priced at $199, although this is only because of the capsule design, the rest is the same. Another major similarity is the driver configuration. The Evoke uses 1DD+2BA, where the BA drivers are also Knowles, although they are separate: one is for the mid frequencies and the other for the upper treble. Meanwhile, the Hidizs MS3 use 1DD+2BA, where the BA drivers are from Knowles, being a composite driver whose model is SWFK-31736. I don’t know the model used for the Evoke.
In terms of external construction, the Evoke are resin and the MS3 are metal, obviously heavier. Seen from the outside, they have an almost similar silhouette in size, but the Evoke is thicker and bulkier, with a slightly more projected nozzle. Despite their larger size, their ergonomics are excellent, with a superior and very stable anchor, as well as a lighter weight that makes them win the battle against the MS3’s good performance in this aspect. Where the Evoke gets a puncture is in the accessories, they come with a huge and unusable box, with only a set of silicone tips. Despite this, the cable is outstanding, in silver, unlike the MS3’s also excellent copper cable.
In terms of frequency response there are clear differences. The Evoke’s are more emphasised in the sub-bass, while the mid-bass is softer, with a faster decay towards the mids. This improves the cleanliness of the bass, reducing its bloat, as well as freeing up the mids. The MS3s have more energy in the mid-bass, extending the lower range to a greater degree, although the dip at the inflection point is more pronounced. The Evoke is smoother and more balanced in all bands and the differences between the ranges are more homogeneous. The MS3s have a thicker and more voluminous lower band, more polarised mids and more present, energetic and extended highs. Perhaps, the treble is the biggest difference between the two models, due to this difference in energy and extension, in favour of the MS3.
In terms of sensitivity, the MS3s are far superior; you have to turn up the volume to get the Evoke to the same sound pressure level.
In the low end the bass representation is as seen in the FR: the bass drums are more extended in the MS3s, both in space and in time. Their texture is rougher, they feel more boommy, more developed, their volume is higher and their timbre more audible. On the Evoke they sound drier, they finish earlier, their timbre is more sensory and their texture is smoother, not as pronounced. Everything is shorter on them, they are faster and dissipate sooner. They are also deeper and somewhat darker. I think the bass in the Evoke is more technical and in the MS3 more fun. Although they have a similar level of presence, the greater volume and extension of the MS3s into the mid-bass makes them seem to have more of it.
In the mid-range, the male voices of the MS3s have more body, density and sound more grounded. There is more cleanness in the Evoke, but less physicality. There seems to be more complexity in the MS3 male voices, with a bit more texture and descriptiveness. However, the Evoke is able to create a sense of a generalised wall of sound in the mids, due to its greater homogeneity and balance in this area. On the other hand, the MS3s can suffer from a certain hollowness caused by the deeper apex in the centre of the mids, as well as the greater rise towards the upper-mids. At this point, female vocals have a higher level of projection in the MS3s, achieving a more affected clarity and light. Detail is more exalted and also polarised. The timbre enjoys that ambivalence, a good base tinged by a superior energy in the treble. In the Evoke all this is more balanced, generating a more calm and natural timbre.
In the treble of the MS3 there is more energy, a sparkle, clarity and wider extension. The BA timbre is arguably more pronounced, but the treble is sharper, finer, more explicit, providing more information and balancing the final timbre. The Evoke’s softer first treble and the control zone at the beginning of the second treble create a quieter, but also more nuanced, even biased, upper range. It controls sibilance, but obscures the treble projection, relatively speaking. Actually, there is a middle way, which would be ideal. In the extreme, the Evoke doesn’t lose as much air as the MS3 and stretches slightly more, but in a subtly perceptible way.
The perception of the scene is different in both IEMS. The Evoke has a more oval representation, with more depth and is softer. The MS3s are more focused, the extremes are more in the foreground and the mids recede in their centre. Both bass and treble jump out and polarise the image, but also volatilise it to a greater degree, becoming more ethereal. On a net level, I think the Evoke’s soundstage is larger, though just barely, the concave, more natural feel, as well as the greater width, length and that higher height point gives it this sense of a larger, fuller sounding soundstage. However, the level of detail is more explicit and finer in the MS3s. In the background, I don’t miss detail in the Evoke, but it is more discernible and evident in the MS3, also a bit more forced. Separation is a notch higher on the Hidizs due to the more effective cut-off and clearer resolution.
Perhaps Hidizs has had time to experiment with the IEMS and has decided to make an effort on a known and more successful basis, such as the Harman-2019 profile, on which he has based the tuning of these MS3s. He has also done his part to generate some differences, by means of the 3 pairs of filters. The result is brilliant on the one hand and shaded on the other. In the centre is the best response. Building on the beautiful design of its big brother MS5 and finally providing a balanced cable as a purchase option, the Hidizs MS3 stands as a classic triple-driver adapted to the current demands of its price range. Without a doubt, this is a purchase that will not disappoint, because the quality is clear and explicit. It has a sharper V-profile in the centre, but with an extended, powerful and textured bass. The midrange is well represented and both male and female voices have a great impact on the sound. Finally, the treble is really crisp and extended, with a level of energy that does not surpass the pleasing sound, but asserts its presence. Technically, they are skilled and their level of detail appreciable, even when compared to other greats in the same league. In the end, it may all depend on tuning and, in this respect, Hidizs could make more use of its filter system, to gain versatility in an FR that has everything. An unmitigated success.
Sources Used During the Analysis
- Hidizs AP80 PRO-X Red Copper LE.
- Hidizs DH80S.
- Hidizs S9 Pro.
- Hidizs XO.
- Tempotec MARCH III.
- Burson Audio Playmate II.
- Aune M1p.