- Great sound, very respectful of the profile and timbre of the connected headphones.
- Higher power and battery capacity compared to normal TWS.
- Contrary to what it may seem, ergonomics, fit and comfort are high.
- Excellent price/performance ratio.
- With the included adapters the HB2 can be connected to the vast majority of IEMS or earbuds on the market.
- Very fast and efficient Bluetooth connection.
- Perhaps the great flexibility of use due to the interchangeable cables may be its weak point, in terms of durability and firmness of the connections.
Link to the Store
NiceHCK, the well-known audio retailer on AliExpress, as well as designer and manufacturer of high-quality audio products, is going all out this summer. In parallel to the introduction of its great IEM Lofty, with beryllium diaphragm, it is offering for sale a Bluetooth HiFi receiver module, which can be paired with any IEM, including earbuds. Using the QCC3040 Bluetooth Chip and the most advanced version of BT v5.2, it is also compatible with the most advanced protocols: aptX, SBC, AAC. Each module has a 100mAh battery and interchangeable cables for MMCX, 2Pin 0.78mm recessed and surface connections. Next, we’ll take a look at what these new True Wireless receiver modules can do.
- Bluetooth chip: Qualcomm QCC3040.
- Bluetooth version: v5.2
- Bluetooth protocols: AptX, SBC, AAC.
- Connection distance: 10m
- Noise reduction: CVC 8.0
- SNR: 59dB
- Battery capacity: 100mAh
- Charging time: Approx. 1.5hrs
- Charging port type: USB Type-C.
- Charging voltage and current: 5V 90mA
- Microphone included in each module.
- Battery life: Talk time approx. 10h, Music approx. 13h.
- MMCX, 2Pin 0.78mm and 2Pin 0.78mm NX7 connectors.
- It is compatible with multifunction touch actuation.
The NiceHCK HB2 comes in a plain white box, 127x127x40mm in size. On the front side there is a real picture of the modules with an exploded view of the cable. The model name is on the bottom left, in bold red letters. Below that is the description, in smaller black letters. On the right side, the chip used and the different protocols supported are highlighted. On the back are the rest of the specifications, in Chinese and English. The entire box is made of thick, hard, white cardboard. After removing the lid, the modules are encased in white dense foam moulding, with the model name on the top, together with a cloth tape, which allows easy removal of this first layer. After lifting it up, you can see another white foam mould with two more pairs of cables and a small box containing the charging cable. Finally, underneath this layer, you will find the quality control and warranty cards and the manual (in Chinese and English). In a summary:
- 2 HB modules.
- 1 pair of MMCX cables.
- 1 pair of 2Pin 0.78mm cables.
- 1 pair of 2Pin 0.78mm NX7 cables.
- 1 USB to dual USB Type-C charging cable.
- 1 quality control card.
- 1 warranty control card.
- 1 user manual.
The presentation is simple and clear, it contains everything you need, including 3 pairs of cables that allow connection to virtually all headphone models.
Construction and Design
The construction is predominantly rigid plastic, black in colour. Its approximate measurements are 47.5x16x9.6mm, not counting the part that connects to the cables. Its weight is quite light, although I don’t know its real value. On the outer side is the name of the brand and the letter indicating the channel, in white letters. On the inner side there are two rubber covers, which protect the USB Type-C charging port. In reality the connection operation is slightly hindered by the slight difficulty in connecting the cable, because these rubbers do not come off completely. On the outer side there is a smooth plate containing a small LED in its centre. A little lower down there are three horizontal bars of different sizes, forming a triangle: this is the touch zone. At the top end is the connection port with the semi-rigid cables. This is a recessed 2Pin port, slightly larger than the classic IEMS port, to make it easier to differentiate between them. As I said, the cables are semi-rigid and there are 3 types: MMCX, 2Pin 0.78mm and 2Pin 0.78mm NX7. They have a rubbery, soft, slightly rough coating and are quite light. I would have liked the cables to be attached to the modules a little harder, although they are not soft, they are not difficult to remove. Once in place, though, there doesn’t seem to be a feeling of weakness at the junction. On the other hand, the IEMS fit quite well, with a medium hardness, it’s not difficult to connect the earphones, the measurements are quite accurate. Although I prefer everything to fit a little tighter and firmer. Despite the fact that the construction is entirely plastic, they look sturdy. They don’t seem to meet any standards to protect against splashes, sweat, etc. At least, it’s not listed anywhere. We’ll have to see how it performs in such situations.
All in all, the design is functional rather than beautiful. It is not a piece that stands out because it is beautiful, but rather because of its performance.
Adjustment and Ergonomics
When I first saw them I thought they were going to be annoying and uncomfortable. I was totally wrong. They are not heavy at all and the design of the cables barely touches above the ears. Thus, the modules rest on the back of our ears, but in a very subtle way, their support is light and soft, barely noticeable. If the IEMS fit well, the modules won’t bother you any more than an over-ear cable. There are even many over-ear cables that are more obtrusive than HB2s. The most critical thing is to find the tactile area of operation, it will require a bit of trial and error. In my case it has been like that, because in reality, I’m a bit of a klutz at these things.
Beyond these trifles, I find that the ergonomics, although the design is not very attractive, is quite good, as far as the adjustment of the IEMS+cable+modules set is concerned. Almost excellent.
Operation and Connection
As I said before, accessing the touch part of the HB2 is not the most natural action for me, unless you have a lot of itching behind your ears… But with a bit of practice it can be solved. Fortunately the sensitivity of the area is fine, neither too sensitive nor unresponsive. I think it’s in a good middle ground. And the three bands that allow you to locate the touch zone are well thought out.
The microphone is located inside the module, I don’t know how much better it would have been on the outside. But it seems to work well, because compared to other TWS, on this occasion I had no problem talking to my mother, (yes, it is the acid test to check the microphone of any TWS and she listened to me at the first time).
Here is a quick guide to the operation of the HB2:
- Switch on HB2: press the touch zone of each module for 3 or 4 seconds.
- Turn off HB2: press the touch zone of each module for 6 seconds.
- Start or pause music: Double click on the touch zone of any module.
- Next song: long press on the touch zone of the right module for 2 seconds.
- Previous song: long press on the touch zone of the left module, for 2 seconds.
- Volume up: one click on the touch zone of the right module.
- Volume down: one click on the touch zone of the left module.
- Answer the call: When the phone rings, double click on the touch zone of any module.
The connection to Bluetooth sources is very fast and agile, in this respect it is superior to other devices I have used. This provides a more pleasant user experience and even allows me to have a higher opinion of the HB2s.
The sound of the HB2 is surprisingly respectful of the frequency response of the connected headphones. Whether IEMS with DD, hybrid or just BA drivers, the curve matches the original without any problems. There only seems to be a very slight dip at the sub-bass end, which is hardly noticeable. Even in the high end of the IEMS with BA drivers, there seems to be more extension. This effect may be beneficial in providing more air, as it happens above 10khz. That said, there is no doubt that the HB2 is a hugely versatile product, basically because they allow you to convert any IEM, even MMCX-connected earbuds, into Bluetooth headphones, with all the advantages that entails: you don’t have to stick to a single sound profile. Most of us probably have more than one IEMS with an interchangeable cable, we just have to choose which one we are going to use to convert them to TWS. The freedom this brings, especially when we know that our IEMS will sound with the same profile as wired, is limitless. But what about the quality? Well, in that sense, it depends on the source. If we have a smartphone with BT v5.0 or higher and AptX, we are already at the right level. At this point it’s just a matter of finding the 7 differences or leave it for another time and enjoy the freedom of wireless use.
At an immediate comparative level, listening to the same earphone model, connected to the HB2s and then switching to a cable, is a bit tedious. But if you make the effort, the differences are noticeable, albeit slight. Wired, the sound has a more dynamic feel, as well as more transparency, spatiality and three-dimensionality. The differences have to be sought around technicalities, higher resolution and better definition. But even so, if one does not go into such a direct comparison, we are talking about a sound that is too good for the price of these modules. And I’m sure that with better sources than the ones I own, the sound could be superior. On the treble side, I find that the HB2s do brighten up the headphones a bit, but not in a negative way. For example, with the NiceHCK Lofty, it seems that the sound in the high end is splashier, being placed on a closer plane. Even so, the feeling of extra air is offset by the relatively smaller soundstage achieved with the HB2s. The better signal-to-noise ratio level obtained with a cable improves the darker background, spaciousness and spatiality of the sound. But it will require the use of fairly good headphones to appreciate this sort of thing. If more modest headphones are used, these differences become much tighter.
On the other hand, I don’t notice any changes in timbre using the HB2s, which is great, because it still respects the original sound of the IEMS.
The low end with the HB2s enjoys very good presence and powerful punch, in those IEMS that do, while maintaining a remarkable energy capacity. Where subtle differences can be found is in the texture and, even finer, in the recreation of the different bass layers. In terms of elasticity, cable seems to have a higher value and somewhat more control. But the realism levels using the HB2s are very high.
In the mid-range, the differences are to be found around the level of transparency and distance between the elements, due to the lower dynamics of the HB2s. For cable, the clarity seems to be more evident, as well as the feeling of openness of the instruments and the air around them.
As you can see, I admit that there are still differences between using the cable and using the HB2s. But the differences are becoming smaller and the advantages are very great. With the sound offered by the HB2s I don’t feel that the profile is strange or forced, because the profile is the same as the wired IEMS. Therefore, the tuning will always be what we want it to be. It is true that Bluetooth still has its limits due to its lower signal-to-noise ratio, dynamics, separation and stage. But I, being a complete sceptic of Bluetooth technology, am very satisfied with what the NiceHCK HB2s give me in terms of sound.
Nowadays, there are many people who can’t conceive of music with cables. In my opinion, the difference between using IEMS with cables and IEMS TWS is still quite noticeable. I have only rarely been able to be satisfied with the sound produced. On the other hand, for some time now, there have been a number of products in the middle ground that manage to improve the performance. Among them is the new NiceHCK HB2, a Bluetooth module that connects to any IEM or earbud with an MMCX or 2PIN connection. The first thing you might think about is its size, construction and ergonomics. And in all three things it is quite good: the size is totally adequate, even the length of the cables adjusts smoothly, improving even the ergonomics. The weight is very light and the design of the cables keeps chafing and discomfort to a minimum. Occasionally, there are normal cables that are more annoying than HB2 cables. Construction-wise, obviously, the HB2s use plastic and rubber, to maintain all of the above. They don’t have the most attractive shape or presence, but they are more about versatility than anything else. And so it is, with three pairs of cables, I think the HB2s are compatible with 95% of IEMS, if not more. As they are independent modules and larger than normal TWS, both the battery and all the electronics responsible for Bluetooth reception, its subsequent transformation and amplification, can be more optimised and improved. This has an impact on both performance (longer battery life) and sound (more power and quality). And when it comes to sound, the main virtue of the HB2 is the respect for the profile of the connected headphones. Just the fact that the frequency response will hardly be affected after connecting them to the HB2s should be enough of an attraction for any enthusiast. But this respect goes even further, because even the timbre will remain unchanged. In short, connecting the HB2s to our favourite headphones and converting them to TWS can be one of the most pleasurable things we can do, because we will gain a lot of things without losing any of the final sound quality. Isn’t that great?
Sources Used During the Analysis
- Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro
- HiBy R3 Pro
- JWD JWM-115
- Tempotec Variations V1-A