From Beauty To Music
- Again, a unique sonority sensation, even more balanced and beautiful.
- Great midrange: refined, balanced, detailed, harmonious and very enjoyable.
- Quality of construction.
- Quality of accessories, cable and case.
- I would have preferred that the 4.4mm adapters to the rest of the plugs were angled, to avoid a long set length.
- Although the tuning of the set is smooth and appropriate for the final result, I would have liked a model with more emphasised extremes (sub-bass and treble), but without losing the balance. I think the driver has room for improvement in this respect.
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NiceHCK surprises me once again with the arrival of its new Topguy model. And my surprise lies in several reasons: in appearance, the Topguy is very similar to the Lofty, only the external plate is different, more beautiful and better decorated than the Lofty’s, while the packaging and accessories are almost the same. Why has NiceHCK released two relatively similar models, one after the other? In theory, the big difference lies in the new driver: this time a 10mm dynamic driver has been used, whose diaphragm is a magnesium and titanium alloy. But this difference does not mean a drastic change in tuning. The frequency response is relatively similar, with this new model being smoother in the low end and slightly more neutral from the upper mids onwards. Is this an improvement over the sound of the Lofty, or just a moderately more refined profile? I will try to answer this and other questions about this great NiceHCK product.
- Driver Type: 10mm dynamic driver with magnesium and titanium alloy diaphragm.
- Frequency Response: 20Hz – 28kHz.
- Sensitivity: 109dB/mW
- Impedance: 16Ω
- THD: ≤0.5% 1kHz
- Capsule material: aviation grade aluminium alloy.
- Cable length: 1.2m±5cm
- Cable material: Taiwan 6N OCC.
- Jack Connector: 4.4mm Balanced with adapters to 3.5mm SE and 2.5mm BAL.
- Capsule Connection Type: 2Pin 0.78mm
- Choice of Colours: Black, Red, Blue and Green.
The NiceHCK Topguy repeats the packaging of the Lofty model. This new model comes in a medium-sized white box, measuring 171×127.5x54mm. The outside of the box is covered with a sliding cardboard sleeve. In the centre of the main face is a realistic photo of a product capsule. Underneath is the model name, written in lower-case, cursive, gold-coloured letters. The model name is slightly to the left and not centred. At the bottom, also aligned to the left, in black ink, is the product description, in Chinese and English. Finally, the brand logo is in the top left-hand corner.
On the back side, at the top, are some specifications, in Chinese and English. In the lower half, there are 4 realistic photos of the 4 available colours of the capsules, indicating the model chosen, by means of a sticker. In my case it is the green colour. At the bottom are the rest of the notes, such as the company address, website, EAN13 code and brand logo.
After removing the cardboard, a black textured box with the logo engraved in the centre is revealed. After opening it like a book or chest, the capsules can be seen stuffed into a thick protective foam mould, along with their cable and the gleaming blue leather box. The total contents are:
- The two Topguy capsules, the outer sides of which are protected by a transparent plastic sheet.
- 1 Taiwan 6N OCC cable.
- A blue leather box.
- A magnetised leather loop to hold the cable.
- 3 pairs of black silicone tips, sizes SxMxL.
- 3 pairs of white translucent silicone tips, sizes SxMxL.
- 1 pair of translucent white silicone tips, size medium, installed in the capsules.
- 1 straight 4.4mm balanced female to 3.5mm SE male adaptor.
- 1 straight 4.4mm balanced female to 2.5mm BAL male adapter.
- Several warranty cards and quality certification.
Again, the shine of all the materials and the beauty of the outer plate of the capsules are worth mentioning. The leather case is of good quality, although a bit small for such a bulky cable. The case of the EBX21, due to its size, would have been more suitable.
On the negative side, the set of tips is rather classic and there are no foam tips.
Construction and Design
The capsules are constructed from aviation grade aluminium alloy. They are mechanized on a 5-axis CNC machine. They are highly polished and very smooth. They are not exactly light, and with the cable, the overall weight is noticeable, although this is not a negative factor. As is often the case with similar IEMS, the great ergonomics save the weight. The shape of the external face is of African continent, but thinner in its lower vertex. Its curves are very rounded. On this occasion, the external face can be chosen from 4 colours, green, red, blue and black. While in the first three colours, the outer plate forms a random, flowing pattern, mixing the representative colour with other liquid tones, the black colour is a checkered, carbon-like pattern. On the inner side, the Topguy has all the corners and edges rounded to fit perfectly in all the nooks and crannies of our ears. There is a pair of holes, one at the bottom of the mouthpieces, the other at the edge, next to the 2Pin 0.78mm connectors. Next to it, there is a white ink mole, inside which is the letter that identifies the channel. The mouthpiece is the classic H-profile mouthpiece, protected by a dense metal grille. The largest diameter of the mouthpiece is 5.9mm and its total length is 4mm.
The cable consists of 4 strands covered with blue braided fabric. It is made of Taiwan 6N OCC. The connector sleeves are highly polished metal cylinders, gently depressed in the middle. This pattern is repeated on the divider piece as well. The pin is a transparent ball that fits perfectly. On this occasion, the plug is balanced 4.4mm and adapters are provided for 2.5mm BAL and for the classic 3.5mm SE. To tidy up the cable comes the usual purple leather strap with magnets, which has the brand’s logo engraved on it.
Finally, again, the case is made of blue leather, with dimensions of 96x73x43mm. Its closure is magnetised and its top cover has a padded outer protection, coupled with a rigid interior.
The dynamic driver is a 10mm, magnesium-titanium alloy diaphragm. No reference is made this time to the type of magnetic circuit used.
The construction is totally premium and the new outer face, although not a complete unique element, brings a beauty superior to its brother Lofty, adding a more particular and exclusive touch, given that the colour patterns may vary with each model. The shapes are very neat, although they are based on a semi-custom pattern, which is very effective and durable. On the negative side, the overall weight of the set, more of the cable than of the capsules, is worth mentioning. Also, the size of the box is a bit too small for such a bulky cable and capsules, as well as the built-in magnetic tape.
Adjustment and Ergonomics
The fit is trivial and simple. The lower apex fits very well, as do the curves of the inner face. The upper slit of the inner face may need to be supported more than necessary on the lower branch of the antihelix due to its weight. This may cause some discomfort during long listening in sensitive ears. Personally, I feel this contact, but its rounded curves make it not very annoying. The fit is very good and they do not move once in place. The cable is a bit heavy, especially with the 4.4mm connector. To this must be added the rest of the metal parts. Thus, the overall weight can contribute to the set feeling quite a bit above the ears, with the possibility of increased chafing over time.
In the end, these are subtle and slight drawbacks that add up in a negative way, within a much more positive total. The degree of isolation is remarkable, despite the fact that the insertion is not more than superficial to medium.
The profile has a tendency towards balance/neutrality, coming from a very slight V, enhanced in the upper mids, but with controlled treble. The end result could contribute to a somewhat mid-centric profile, as the extremes are less noticeable and, in the end, serve the mid-range, complementing and enhancing it.
The low end has a natural curve, coming from the classic V-profile, enhanced in the mid-bass and with a lighter sub-bass. It is more technical and effective than predominant or noticeable. But this is by no means a totally light bass IEMS. The punch is there, very well drawn, as I say, technically very capable, quick and agile, swift in its decay and fade. The level of detail is close to excellent and the texture is very pleasant, halfway between smoothness and a superior descriptive level, which is very eloquent and with extreme precision, capable of providing a pleasant and rich roughness, very enjoyable for its realism and precious execution. The area is not heavy, nor does it persist in sound. The range has the virtue of accompanying, rather than impressing individually. Although, as a soloist, it can be observed that its qualities are not within the reach of everyone. The bass, if you look for it, can be found, it appears with ease, but always in a respectful plane with the rest of the frequencies. These characteristics limit its power, but provide a sonority more in keeping with nature, less inclined to a more unrealistically forced sub-bass. Depth is less noticeable, even slight. One does not perceive that expansion of power towards the abyssal tones, which results in a greater growth of the scene. In this way, the planes depicted become closer together, with less distance between them, on the axis of length. The width is also limited by a representation centred on the mid-bass, with less influence on both sides, resulting in a bass that is more sonorous than sensory or physical. The end result is an audiophile-grade zone, with an eminently realistic timbre, which treasures a great technical quality, with no negative influence on the rest of the ranges, which does not bleed the mids and which tries to enrich the overall sound, except in its contribution to the scene.
The current bass tuning does free the midrange from a negative influence. The influence is so low that they don’t even provide warmth. And I don’t say this as a negative point, but as a compliment to the frequency division and the purity of the sound. In this sense, the feeling of openness and cleanliness is totally evident. In fact, the mids are the most complete range of the Topguy. Thanks to a slight drop-off in the first half and the upper mids being suitably well tuned so as not to be overdone in presence, NiceHCK’s new model can be considered a safe bet for those looking for balanced/neutral IEMS with a mid-centric tendency. And perhaps it’s a bit hasty to jump to conclusions in the middle of describing the ranges, but there may be no better way to describe the Topguy’s goodness in this range either. Leaving conclusions aside and returning to the description, I want to persist in the idea of balance that exists on both sides of the slight central valley. On the one hand, the softness of the low end leads to a slight fall-off, which gives the body, both instrumental and vocal, a consistent presence, beyond a hollow or bland neutrality, but without being heavy in volume. The point achieved is quite sweet, both tonally and timbrally. And, of course, this harmony is helped by the appropriateness of the tuning of the upper mids, because they do not feel excited or out of place. The perception of clarity is such that the Topguy seems to be analytical, but I don’t think of it that way. Their balance is simply so well achieved that they have a very high delicacy. Add to this the excellent technical capabilities: the amount of light they possess, the outstanding power of definition, the distinguished resolution, the level of separation… The whole of the midrange becomes a highly enjoyable range, which is also very natural and musical, not at all forced and considerably transparent and pure. I suppose that, as with the Lofty, the materials used for the construction of the dynamic driver, in this case the magnesium and titanium alloy, have a lot to do with recreating the Topguy’s special sound. And yes, because it does. What I called then the beryllium sonority, I could now describe as another similar definition, linking the elements of that alloy. But it wouldn’t look so good. So I would rather encourage everyone to discover how special this new sound is and how it affects the generation of an excellent mid-range. And name it whatever you like.
As with the lower area, it would be unfair to say that the upper area is simply a complement of the midrange. And although one of its great merits is to enrich them, they also possess a special balance that distinguishes them individually. It is clear, I refer to the graph and to the previous Lofty as well, that they will not stand out for a prominent presence, but are based on the control and coherence of a classically inclined profile, in this sense, which in the end generates a distinctive sonority. The trebles are in that sweet and delicate segment, which tries to accompany and not to disturb. They do not want to be protagonists, nor do they want to stand out. They seek their role as exceptional gregarious, never looking to surpass their leader. And although the sacrifice in this sense is high, on this occasion they receive unexpected help from the lower range. The relative attenuation of the lows gives the upper range a greater prominence, shining with more presence, but demonstrating that smoothed and controlled tuning. In this way, the first high notes are slightly sparkling, swift and flashy, with minimal flare and narrow extension. Something similar happens with the second wave of treble, more attenuated if possible, avoiding unwanted flash. Finally, the range is extended with a good amount of air that provides the special Topguy sonority. This is not really an odd tuning, but is almost shared with the Lofty and perhaps many other IEMS that seek a profile that balances detail and sparkle with control and a respectful sound that allows for long hours of listening. The novelty remains in the sonority, timbre, elegance and beauty of the end result. No matter how many similar tunings have been tried, NiceHCK can boast a beautiful, impeccably crafted and distinctive sound, which makes them almost unique. It’s a good, nice, pleasant and very attractive sound. And the treble contributes to this.
The cleanliness, purity and clarity of the sound provide a high sense of separation. On the other hand, the perception of the scene has different sides. On the one hand, the performance is wide and has a good sense of height. But I notice a certain lack of depth, without the sound being perceived as flat. There is a noticeable sense of air, but this is not accompanied by a greater distance at the front axle. Thus, one misses a higher level of three-dimensionality, which would give the sound a more vaporous and surrounding ambience, as well as the recreation of more sound planes. Admittedly, I’m being critical in this respect, but I get those sensations in the Lofty that I miss here. And although the sound is clearer and less contaminated by that cleaner low end, the Topguy’s are slightly less sonically expansive than their sibling. On the other hand, the level of detail wins out. The greater purity of the sound and the more persistent clarity, favouring the uniqueness of the elements and their individual contemplation, raising the level of nuance recreation and overall resolution to excellent.
Although the comparison has been constant throughout this review, I think a more detailed confrontation between the two models is in order. On the basis of their physical resemblance, both IEMS are excellent in terms of construction and accessories. However, I find the external face of the Topguy more accurate and beautiful. The two models share a similar sound base, with a tuning that has similar curves. However, there are a few details that offer clear differences in the final result. While the Lofty has a more V-shaped profile, with a more classical tendency, more polarised in its lows and upper mids, the Topguy has been refined at these same points, being softened for balance and a more pronounced neutrality. In the low end, the power differences are eloquent, in favour of the Lofty. There is even greater sub-bass extension, punchier punch, greater sense of depth and flatness. Their bass feels more complete, with a fuller and wider body. Whereas the Topguy has a more relaxed and smoother lower range, but faster, more defined and with a quicker decay. Its incidence is less persistent and is more neutral towards the rest of the sound, while the Lofty’s bass pulls warmth into the midrange and is more expansive.
In the mid-range, the Topguy’s expression is more precious and delicate, more beautiful and volatile, more delicate and free in turn. On the Lofty, for all its great sonority, it feels more rooted in the warmth of its profile, feeling more clinging and less ethereal, yet closer and more powerful. That’s something you feel in the first half of the mids and in the male vocals. While the Lofty seem to generate the music in a simpler way, there is more complexity in the development of the Topguy’s central range, as if they are able to draw more elements to the surface, but without losing the smoothness, or showing an analytical character. In this way, the Topguy ends up being richer, more beautiful and juicier than the Lofty. And the only thing they can lose is the Lofty’s superior level of forcefulness, which can be useful in more punchy genres. It is clear that the tuning is more accurate in the upper mids, less sharp and more neutral, something that favours the more affable, mid-distance character of the Topguy. In contrast, the Lofty is more penetrating in the upper midrange, as well as in the first treble. Beyond this zone, the tuning is very similar and the differences are based on the same patterns: there is a more polarised presence in the Lofty, while the Topguy is more neutral and balanced. But both share a similar treble execution, only altered by the different sonority of each, more emphasis and their particular timbre, warmer and more penetrating in the Lofty, more neutral and soft in the Topguy.
The scene proves different in both IEMS. The more relaxed character of the Topguy brings a more ethereal and volatile feel to the scene, with a mid-distance presence, very good sense of width, height, separation and cleanliness. It does suffer from a certain depth, though. The closer yet deeper look of the Lofty expands its scene three-dimensionally, adding an extra body and some more dynamics, due to the greater frontal distance between the elements. There also seems to be more lateral separation, with a sense of more darkness between notes, perhaps provided by the emphasis and closeness of some elements, mixed with the greater depth it possesses. Micro detail can even become more defined and clearer on the Lofty, while the more subdued and softer sound of the Topguy, despite its higher resolution, can camouflage those same nuances, because they are represented in that more neutral, mid-distance way.
I find it curious that NiceHCK has launched two similar models in such a short space of time. Both have a very alike presentation, aesthetically they differ in their external face and the sound has a similar curve, but with important nuances that can tip the balance to one side or the other. Having tried the Lofty, when it came to face the Topguy, I was prepared to feel a great sound. Actually, if there is one thing both models share, it is a precious and high quality sonority, very attractive and enjoyable. But in the case of the Topguy, this feeling is superior. The tuning of this new sibling is more refined, more accurate in terms of final audiophile quality, because it is more balanced, neutral and pleasant. Everything is smooth and pleasant in the Topguy, starting with its shapes, its beautiful external face, its bass, its mids and its treble. In particular, the mid-range is very well balanced, rich, clean, clear, natural, luminous, pleasant, calm and beautiful. Along with that special characteristic sonority, music is best played with a Topguy in your ears and will remain so, even after hours. In addition, they have a great capacity for resolution, for the recreation of detail, nuance, remarkable definition and separation. Everything is designed to bring the highest degree of comfort to our favourite music, as well as a lot of beauty.
Sources Used During the Analysis
- Tempotec Sonata E44.
- Hidizs S9 Pro.
- Earmen Sparrow.
- S.M.S.L Sanskrit 10th MKII + iFi ZEN CAN.
- Tempotec V1-A + Hidizs DH80S
- Zishan Z4.
- ACMEE MF02s.