A Successful Revision
- Great mids, remarkable bass.
- Relatively warm sound, very pleasant.
- Wide, open and expansive soundstage.
- Excellent design and construction.
- Outstanding price/performance ratio.
- Treble too shaded.
- Lack of brilliance and sparkle.
- Slightly hazy feeling which limits the level of transparency.
- Few accessories.
Link to the Store
It is clear that the surprises from NiceHCK do not come alone. If previously the DB1s were a successful entry into the affordable IEMS range, now it’s the EB2Ss that are doing the same. It is true that they are not as economical, but with a current price of around 30€, they are still at a very attractive level. It is worth remembering that their previous model, the EB2, was already reviewed by me a little over two years ago. I remember when it was very common back then for a zipped case to come as an accessory. Times are different and now, in its place comes a waifu and less foam. Times have changed, but the sound has improved, and so has the quality control. That initial version had a metal design and a small conical capsule. The current model retains the elongated metal spigot, but has a more contemporary and refined capsule. It is noticeable that there has been an evolution towards a model that is more elaborate in its creation, with better design details. It is true that they are a little bigger, but, without a doubt, the new EB2S are a step above in beauty and elegance, as well as in design. We will go into detail on the rest of the issues, as well as their sound, in this review.
- Driver Type: 15.4mm dynamic driver with LCP (Liquid Crystal Polymer) diaphragm, with N50 magnetic circuit.
- Frequency Response: 20-25kHz.
- Sensitivity: 112dB/mw
- Impedance: 32Ω
- Capsule material: Aluminium alloy.
- Cable material: High purity OFC.
- Jack connector: 3.5mm SE.
- Cable length: approx. 1.2m.
The NiceHCK EB2S come in a medium-sized box with dimensions 129x98x30mm. As usual, unfortunately, an anime girl covers almost the entire front side. The brand logo is in the top left corner, while the product description and product name is in the top right corner. The ink used for the logo is holographic, while the model is written in clear green ink. On the back side, only the logo is visible in the centre. Below is the same model description, along with the specifications and the manufacturer’s contact details. After removing the outer cellophane, you can see that the outer cover is a sliding cardboard at the narrowest part. After doing so, a card appears, just like the main side. Underneath are the EB2S, embedded in a white foam mould. At the bottom is a flap with the brand logo in the centre. Underneath are the rest of the accessories. They are as follows:
- The EB2S.
- Three pairs of complete foams.
- A user’s guide.
- A certificate of guarantee.
- A cloth pouch.
It is clear that the current trend is waifus, cloth bags and few foams. I miss the old days.
Construction and Design
The NiceHCK EB2S have an attractive and eye-catching design. They are available in two colours, green and black, with and without microphone. The model chosen for this review is the green model without microphone. I must say that I really like the shade of green, as well as the sandblasted microphone surface. The earbuds are made of aluminium alloy and are lightweight. A straight metal spike runs through the capsule. On the upper edge there is a red or blue groove to indicate the side. The capsule has a fairly cylindrical rear part, with large openings near the outer edge. Inside is a piece of gilded brass with a conical hole in its centre. Its outer part is ringed with micro-grooves. The cone of the capsule flares out to the emitting face. Its rim is black and the grille is micro-perforated metal. Near this rim and the lower spike, there is another groove. The model name can be read horizontally along this spike in white letters near the cone. On the lower edge is the lettering indicating the channel, vertically.
In terms of dimensions, the rear cone has a diameter of 8.5mm. The spike has a diameter of 4mm and a length of almost 27mm. The maximum diameter of the capsule is close to 17mm and the thickness at its edge is less than 5mm. The length of the capsule from the grille to the rear cone is slightly more than 17mm.
The cable comes free from each spigot. There is a small, cylindrical, black plastic pin, depressed in the centre. The splitter piece is metallic. It is a kind of cylinder that widens abruptly at its upper edge, which is gold-coloured. The jack connector sleeve is angled and black, a small dark cylinder attached to a rubber elbow which serves to protect the cable connection. The cable has a transparent, slightly rigid plastic sleeve, which has a subtle memory effect. From the splitter to the plug, the cable is double-stranded and both strands are joined together. The copper inside looks dark and is high purity OFC. It has a velcro strap with the brand name on it, for pick up.
Good construction, good design, in my opinion, superior to the small EB2. It has a more robust feel, with a very attractive surface finish.
Adjustment and Ergonomics
It seems that earbuds have no development in this respect, but this is not true. Small variations can make a substantial change in both fit and sound. The cone of the EB2S has a curve that makes it easy to fit in the earcup, and despite the diameter of the driver, it fits easily and firmly inside the earcup. At least in my case. They also allow a slight rotation inside, an adjustment I often make to experience sound changes. Another great advantage is their light weight, even though they are metallic, they are not noticeable and this increases comfort, allowing a long lasting fit. Well designed.
The NiceHCK EB2S have a warm, two-thirds profile, something like a ¬. The treble is comparatively muted. Thus, both the bass and the midrange stand out more.
The warmth of the EB2S is expressed in its mid-bass emphasis. Here, their sonority is not affected by the subtle sub-bass colouring. As usual, the low end is heard rather than felt. But I must applaud its fast and precise execution, with a tight and rather dry punch. This helps the LFO playback to have a fairly realistic vibe, considering they are earbuds and at this price point. I’ve heard worse IEMS in testing pure low-frequency tones, even more expensive. This remarkable level of reproduction is felt in several aspects: the capsule plays a big role in conveying naturalness throughout the development of bass notes. For example, the old EB2 suffered from its small size, which did not allow the bass to develop properly. This is not the case with this model. The capsule is very well dimensioned and internally generates no unwanted effects. Of course, the driver is also crucial in this respect, as are the properties of its diaphragm. But I think it is the combination of these elements that elevates the final result. And this is a low end that enjoys good technicality, speed and precision, a decay that is also fast and with very little aftertaste. The bass gumminess is just enough for enjoyment and also to develop a roughness that allows texture beyond smoothness. It’s not a sound for bass-heads, but it does enter the realm of bass-lovers, at least in terms of its audiophile grade and good presence, as well as its realistic and suitably natural tone. Add to this the driver’s ability to render complex bass without smearing it, expertly defining it, a high level of resolution, layering and cleanliness, and it scores a B-plus. It is not easy to find bass in earbuds as well articulated as these EB2S.
The great competence of the bass allows for a good transition into the mid-range, where only warmth escapes to accompany the mid-range. Skill in the representation of this range persists, and there is a good amount of fullness in the first half, which adds body and density, but without overhanging projection. There is a point of restraint that matches the vocal range with the instrumentation, avoiding presential over-exposure and bold proximity. This fact means that the EB2S cannot be considered mid-centric, as its balance between bass and midrange gives it a more balanced, complete and complex profile. And in between, it exudes a good deal of clarity and a good deal of transparency value. These are not brilliant earbuds, nor are they emphasised in the mid-high range, but they are far from muddy. In this sense, they are hardly dark at all, beyond their warmth, avoiding a sound that is softer or muddier than it should be. This aptitude avoids losing too many technicalities and details. This is how the EB2S reach a remarkable level of dynamics, achieving a background of adequate darkness, a good capacity of expressiveness, exposing a quite competent degree of definition and resolution, standing out from the average, but without entering into analytical terrain. Just enough to avoid falling into a monotonous musicality, a cohesive sound with a low descriptive range. Undoubtedly, this is a good compendium of qualities, which raises the level of these earbuds beyond their price range.
The upper zone is the least represented range and the lack of better development is what prevents the EB2S from being considered excellent. The first half is nuanced and rounded. I miss a bolder flare that cleans up the background, offers more of a sense of separation and, of course, a more prominent sparkle. Sparkle is limited, something that limits the perception of detail or higher definition/resolution. But there is an ability not to drop a blunt sound, which penalises the rest of the band. It is, without doubt, a support band, rather than a show-off band. There is a hint of a more exalted point, which adds more delicate notes and nuances in the harmonics. But, in general, the performance is restrained and the fringe does not have the thrust, nor the prominent presence of mids or lows. Something more than testimonial.
The open feel of the EB2S is based on the good design of the capsule, which gives it an almost excellent ability in this respect. The rear apertures support a semi-open approach, which allows for showcasing, enlargement and the perception of a large, expansive scene. The projection is not outstanding, because the roundness of the notes prevents it from reaching further. Nevertheless, the height is striking, as is the level of depth. The relative lack of air prevents a more transparent perception and superior separation. But this is never a congested sound, not at all, but well articulated, spacious, fluid and free. In this sense, the stage is a strength of the EB2S, generating a considerable degree of dimensionality and structure, but without becoming unnatural. The result is a smoothly immersive and pleasing sound, suitable for very long listening, whether for music, film or series, just to take advantage of these qualities.
Without a doubt, the Smabat M0 are one of my favourite earbuds and a reference in this range. I consider myself a bass lover, and yet the M0s are not characterised by prominent bass. But they do have something that is available to very few: a great clarity and level of transparency. You could say that the EB2S are the warm brother of the M0. For those who don’t like the brightest sound, the new NiceHCKs may be just what you’re looking for. For everything else, I still prefer the M0s. It is true that in terms of construction and design, the EB2S are clearly superior. The M0s are detachable and that makes them not as robust as the NiceHCKs. But the big advantage of the M0s is that they have an MMCX connection.
As far as sound is concerned, the only area where the EB2S beat the M0s is in the bass. I gave the M0s a fairly low score in that range, but it was for quantity rather than quality. Tastes may vary over time and I see that the EB2S bass is not bad at all for earbuds of this price range. Now, I don’t see that there is such a big gap between the two models in terms of bass. The EB2S have a slightly faster, more concise, better textured, juicier and slightly more present bass.
In the mid-range, the M0 sweeps away all the dirt that the EB2S can present. It is true that the M0s have more emphasis in the mid-highs and the EB2Ss, on the other hand, have more body and presence in the first half of the mid-range. That’s the big difference, which is the superior clarity and transparency of the M0s, although the body is leaner. The background is more discernible and darker in the Smabat, they have better separation, definition and resolution. The EB2S have that haze that is typical of warm earbuds and there is no trace of that characteristic in the M0. Thus, details are better rendered, more visible. Smabats are richer in nuances and the high end has a lot to do with this. The treble is better represented in the M0s, while the EB2S is softer. The brightness of the Smabat is not fatiguing, but offers a liveliness that the NiceHCK lacks, as well as a superior descriptive ability.
The M0 scene is very good, supported by the superior separation compared to the EB2S. The NiceHCKs, on the other hand, have a more open feel. It is a different stage presentation, but both are good in this respect.
Not everything is black and white, nor is the superiority of M0 over EB2S clear. There are songs or genres of music that benefit from EB2S. A quick switch to M0s reveals these situations. It is clear that in music where more bass and upper midrange body is needed, the M0s will not be up to the competition of the EB2S.
I think NiceHCK have got it absolutely right with the revision of the EB2 earbuds. They have improved in all aspects, including quality control and sound. The EB2S are better designed and built, very comfortable and have a warm sound, with great mids and remarkable bass. They have a large, open and expansive soundstage. Their weaknesses are the treble, which is too shaded for my personal taste and does not completely eliminate the haze in the sound. With more transparency and better treble, these would be excellent earbuds. But they are undoubtedly a great value for their price, a sure hit and one of the most attractive and comfortable earbuds.
Sources Used During the Analysis
- ACMEE Magic Sound 4 ES9018K2M 192K/24Bit.
- ACMEE MF02s.
- xDuoo Link2 Bal.
- Hidizs S9 Pro.
- Earmen Sparrow.
- E1DA #9038D.
- HiBy R3 Pro.
- Burson Audio Playmate.
- S.M.S.L Sanskrit 10th MKII + iFi ZEN CAN.