Aspiring To Be Like The Best
- Remarkably smooth, warm and balanced tuning with great lows and mids.
- Well extended treble.
- Good level of construction and design.
- Lightweight and small.
- Matte sound limited in sparkle, separation, transparency and technical ability.
- Questionable ergonomics. Not adapted to my morphology.
- The mouthpieces are short.
- Thin and slightly stiff cable for the price range.
Link to the Store
The Tripowin x HBB Kailua are the second IEMS from the brand that I review. As the name suggests, this is a new collaboration between Tripowin and the famous YouTube audio reviewer (Bad Guy Good Audio Reviews), HawaiiBadBoy (HBB). For this project, Tripowin has used two dynamic transducers (10mm and 6mm) with titanium-coated DLC diaphragms to improve responsiveness and speed. This results in superior technical performance, with fast attack, rich bass texture and detailed treble, without unnatural dips or peaks. They also feature high-purity OCC copper wire for transparent sound. The design is another strong point of the Kailua, with a relatively small size and a very oval shape, they come in three different colours that match the colour of the capsule and its external face, enhancing the contrast between the two. At a price of $79, let’s see what these IEMS can do.
- Driver Type: 10mm DLC Titanium-Coated Dynamic + 6mmTitanium-Coated Dynamic.
- THD: < 0.5% (at 1KHz).
- Sensitivity: 106dB (at 1KHz/mW).
- Impedance: 19Ω.
- Frequency response: 12Hz-36KHz.
- Power rating: 5mW.
- Cable type: 1.2m ± 5% detachable high purity OCC copper cable.
- Jack Connector: 3.5mm gold plated.
- Capsule Connection Type: 2Pin 0.78mm.
The Tripowin x HBB Kailua come in a relatively small box, measuring 116x82x38mm. The background colour is completely black and on the front you can see a real photo of the capsules. The photo of the capsules does not correspond to the actual colour of the capsules. Please note that there are three different coloured models. The name of the model is below in large letters, some being white and others the colour of the outer side of the capsules. The model description is at the bottom, while in the top left corner is the brand name and the HBB logo. The back side is very sparse and you can see the same model name but vertically. Below are the addresses of the locations and you can see that they are the same as for the Kiwi Ears models, even the outer packaging and design is very similar. Removing the outer carton reveals a black box with the brand name in large silver letters. Once the lid is lifted off, there is a thin sheet of protective foam. Underneath is the mould containing the capsules, which is lined with black cardboard, bearing the brand name in large white letters. Underneath this mould are the rest of the accessories, in transparent zip bags. In summary, the complete contents are as follows:
- The two Tripowin x HBB Kailua capsules.
- One high purity OCC copper cable with 3.5mm Jack SE connector and 2Pin 0.78mm interface.
- Three pairs of black SxMxL wide-channel silicone tips.
- Three pairs of narrower channel SxMxL grey silicone tips.
- Warranty card.
There is no zippered case, no pouch, no bag, no pouch… nothing. I find that for the price of $79 the level of accessories is very basic and I think that for this price some kind of protection should be included.
Construction and Design
At no point is it mentioned or specified on the sales website, but it seems that the Kailua are metallic, although very light. I’m leaning towards an aluminium alloy. There are three presentations, black with a purple face, white with a purple face (like my beloved Dragon Ball character Freezer in one of his combat forms) and black with a blue face. In my case, the model is black and violet. Its external shape could resemble a spiral oval, which starts on a flat face containing the 2Pin 0.78mm connection interface. In reality, the spiral is truncated on the first turn and separates to give way to a different coloured outer face. This piece is an irregular oval with one side rounder than the other, which is narrower. It is overlapped and the edges are rounded to blend into the capsule more smoothly. The capsule follows this shape and results in a design that looks very ergonomic. The inner side is very smooth and rounded. There is a change of inclination on the part containing the connection interface, which is triggered towards the mouthpieces. At its base there is a hole. The nozzles are projected and form a distinct part of the capsule. They have three different diameters. The first, the base, has a minimum thickness, the central part has a diameter of 4.8mm and the outer part has a diameter of 5.8mm. The total length is approximately 3.5mm. The mouthpieces are protected by a dense black metal grid. Finally, there are three more holes on the bottom edge of the capsules. The paint on the capsules has a rough micro texture.
The cable is mounted to match the spiral that initiates the capsule and from there its over-ear shape is born, supported by a semi-rigid transparent plastic guide. The cable is specified as high purity OCC copper, but is shown to be silver plated. It consists of only a single strand which splits in two after the splitter piece. This is a simple, metallic cylinder. The past is a small translucent plastic cylinder with a hole running lengthwise through it. The gold-plated 3.5mm SE jack connector sleeve is another slightly longer, but equally thin, metal cylinder. It comes with a plastic sleeve to protect the connector. The 2-pin connectors are the classic 2-pin connectors with exposed pins and a straight sleeve on two rectangular levels. The best thing is that they have a red or blue dot to indicate the channel and not those unreadable transparent raised letters. The cable is thin and has a slight stiffness. It would not be the best cable that could include some $80 IEMS.
Adjustment and Ergonomics
On a theoretical level and in view of their shape, it would seem that the Kailua capsules are very comfortable. But I have had real problems finding tips that fit my morphology without spoiling the sound. The best fit was achieved with a Symbio W cloned tips, which are usually a bit smaller than the XL foam-filled tips I usually make myself. Although the projection of the mouthpieces is slightly extended, the length of the mouthpieces themselves is short. The junction of the two elements and the angle of the projection does not suit my anatomy and that is what complicated the search for the best combination of tips. With these tips the insertion I achieved was superficial although it could have been a little deeper using a smaller size, but I couldn’t get them to stay in place because they fell out. With the size L tips, they have held properly and relatively long lasting, if my activity is not too high. It is true that due to the inclination of the nozzles and the elongated size of the oval, the capsules touch gently with the end of the pinna, although I must admit that the capsules float slightly. The slight pressure due to the blissful inclination of the nozzles is felt over time. Although they seem to be well integrated at first, my ears feel it as the hours go by. On the other hand, the fit is not the fastest I have found and I need a few extra seconds to achieve the optimal insertion to enjoy the best sound the Kailua can offer.
Surprisingly, the Tripowin x HBB Kailua have a frequency response that closely resembles that of the Hidizs MP145s with Rose Gold Balanced filter, being virtually the same all the way down to 4khz. Even the treble is quite extended, with an area below 15khz quite present. So its profile goes beyond the classic V and I would lean towards a W for its attempt at sub-bass lift and its double peak in the treble. Anyway, it is a rather moulded and smoothed tuning, which tries to avoid undesirable peaks and that gives it an appreciable harmony. But just because the FR resembles that of the MP145s does not mean that they sound the same or that they can share the technical skill, resolution, definition or detail of the Hidizs.
On the other hand, the most appropriate sound may be contingent on matching tips that provide the best possible fit, without losing the potential sonic properties of the Kailua. And it’s not normal for me to warn you, but I had a hard time finding the best combination, to the point that the sound I had obtained so far was not too remarkable for me. Fortunately, after finding the best combination, I have been able to enjoy this model. But it is clear that it has been one of the most complex models in this aspect that I have been able to test.
Specifically speaking, the bass has its peak between the sub-bass and the mid-bass. Although it retains some linearity at the low end, the lower human sensitivity in the lower bass region limits its presence, compared to the confluence point above. I would have preferred a higher elevation of the sub-bass to generate a distinctive nuance. But the Kailua’s reflect a customary tuning in this respect. Beyond this high point the decay is gentle, which does not prevent the presence of the mid-bass from being overbearing and predominant in the lower range. Even so, it feels skilful and so it proves in the low-frequency pure tone test. While LFOs below 40Hz retain a sensory nuance, logical vibration is present, but with a sonority characteristic of a good dynamic driver. The level of colouration is low, the oscillation feels quite natural for the price range and is not marred by bass power and presence. The result is an accurate, if a little dark and shaded, timbre, while the development lacks a hint of clarity that would allow for more defined or higher resolution notes, as it has a slight tendency to homogeneity. This behaviour translated to real music implies relatively tight, punchy, present, powerful, yet slightly rubbery and rounded bass drums. The speed is good, there is a certain elasticity in the strike, although this characteristic can be pleasant, even amusing. By the same token, the volume generated is expansive and lingers slightly in the environment. However, the texture is not too rough, both the volume, the gumminess and the roundness cause a softly nuanced range that recreates an even, even, low roughness texture. It is not a technically exquisite or descriptive bass, but it moves with ease and recovers quite well. All in all, the aftertaste is low and the springy feel brings a touch more punch, presence and range, but without possessing any pejorative or negative characteristics. In short, there is a good balance of presence, punch, power, rubberiness and retrieval. Enough to recreate a deep bass, with remarkable volume, range and ability to flood the space, but without drowning out the rest of the frequencies, but with the necessary authority to be noticeable in most situations. On the other hand, in my other classic test of unfiltered and complex bass, the Kailua passed it with a very high grade, without losing control, without suffering at any time and drawing realistic bass, quite natural and not at all strange, capable of distributing the layers with success, harmony and following the different bass lines without mixing any of them. And, above all, preventing the low end from becoming an undefined magma that eats up the rest of the frequencies, even minimising its negative impact within the mix. The result is an ability that combines control with fun and power in equal parts. Quite serious.
The homogeneous, musical character persists and this musical continuity adds harmony in the mix, but also subtly shades the sound, velveting the final result. The mids are slightly creamy and rounded, with no peaks or unevenness. But it is also true that these virtues counterbalance a better level of separation, definition and resolution, as well as giving the sound a subtly dark warmth.
On the other hand, the good profile maintains a good body, physicality, fleshiness and density in the male voices, presenting them with an appropriate prominence, but without being predominant. But, by the same token, although they are quite full, they lack a little sparkle to avoid a certain sense of dullness and congestion. This feeling also carries over to the instrumentation, limiting the sense of dynamics and adding warmth to the timbre.
The balance of the frequency response is demonstrated, even in the upper-mid range. The homogeneity achieved gives the female voices a point of prominence, but without a single predominance. There is a good degree of control that limits sibilance, abruptness, unnecessary brightness, but also shades the sparkle and a sense of transparency, which, at times, may be necessary. Even so, there is clarity, more from intonation than brightness. In fact, the sound is quite sweet, which does not detract from the fact that, at times, it is at odds with a more limited sense of resolution and a diffuse rather than obvious appreciation of the background. The result is a very strong midrange, with a very good base, quite extensive at both ends, with hardly any hollowness, something that gives it a rather ample feeling of fullness. On the other hand, in my opinion, they are too secure and the feeling of warmth, balance and smoothness prevents them from being analytical or descriptive. Although they possess a good expressive and expositional ability, the notes are rounded to be nice and warm. If you are looking for analysis and a cooler sound you will have to look elsewhere.
The treble starts with a narrow control zone or dip above 5kHz which has an influence on the sound. While the sibilance is limited by an extensive, but maintained, treble tuning, this initial hollowness prevents a certain sense of sparkle at some points, even in the vocals. The end of some instruments and voices is nuanced, limited, softened. It is true that there is no harshness, but there is a loss of vivacity and realism at these points. Then, as I say, the treble has a good extension, this makes the sonority of the whole recover or moderate thanks to the average. Although, depending on the musical style, a nuanced or more balanced feel may predominate. The good thing is that the level of presence, power and energy level is quite well integrated with the rest of the band, highlighting the level of balance and equilibrium that exists throughout the frequency range.
On the other hand, there is no doubt that the integration of the two drivers is quite well achieved and is demonstrated by the familiar homogeneity. Meanwhile, the small driver stretches the upper range quite steadily up to almost 15kHz, which gives it an above-average airy feel.
From the low end, the feeling of fullness and volume that the bass provides allows the scene to reach a fairly large occupied space for the price range. The good integration of the lower range and the respect for the rest of the frequencies avoid any oppressive effect and this favours a deep, wide and even high representation. It is true that the exposure is quite frontal, but the oval generated overcomes the laterality, providing a subtly greater amplitude than 180 degrees, something quite positive.
On the other hand, the high musicality of the ensemble and its warmth limit the sense of separation. The notes are not very precise, something that prevents a higher exposure of detail, even restricting the visibility at the micro level, while maintaining the type at the medium and macro level. As I said, these are not analytical or overly descriptive IEMS, while background visibility and separation at that boundary is not very obvious.
Simgot EA500 Filtro Red
Normally, I like to compare IEMS with similar frequency responses to try to show which one is better. This time I wanted to compare IEMS with the same price, but with quite different sound characteristics. These are the Simgot EA500 with their Red filter.
Being objective and coherent with my tastes, just by looking at the graphs, I would be inclined to choose the Kailua because of their higher bass boost. But I also like the more analytical character of the EA500. In terms of accessories there is no big difference except for the EA500’s zippered case, which is very good. The Kailua doesn’t have anything to protect the IEMS. Construction is very good on the Simgot, but they are larger and heavier. At first glance, the smaller and lighter size of the Kailua seemed to have the ergonomic advantage. But, in my situation, this is not the case. Despite the EA500’s greater weight, thickness and size, they fit my ears like a glove and fit much better. The smaller Kailua’s require much more manipulation and adjustment exercise to find a good seal and the most optimal sound. Clearly, this is a particular issue for me and others may find the Kailua much lighter and more comfortable. As for the cable, the one that comes with the tripowin is one strand of the two from the Simgot, and that’s all there is to it.
In terms of profile, it seems that what the Kailua have of excess in the bass, the EA500 have in the mid-highs and first treble. The Tripowin are warm and the Simgot are clearer, more transparent and analytical. As I said, at first glance, my preference leans towards the Kailua, but the brightness and sense of light and better definition of the EA500s really appeals to me in practice. A quick switch between the two shows a lot of differences. The EA500s are a little easier to move, have a more neutral low end, with less impact on the sound, but are faster and more concise. The emphasis is clearer in the mid-highs, there is more light, clarity, transparency and brightness. The treble is more prominent, there is a higher energy level that builds up from the end of the mids. The absence of a more powerful bass makes this area between midrange and treble, which is always compromised in terms of aural safety and long hours of listening, stand out to a greater extent. The EA500s present a more critical sound, with a detail-oriented exposure. Vocals and mid-bass have less base and are thinner. The Kailua’s show their punch, body and volume from the bass to the mid-range. They are denser and also more opaque. Their warmth, smoothness and balance make them more harmonious and musical, but they are also darker and with worse separation. You could say that the Kailua has a boosted bass over the base that the Simgot brings up. The fact that they possess more energy is what makes them present a sense of greater volume, power, space and punch, as well as a little more rubberiness and elasticity. The greater restraint of the EA500s allows for better control, speed and reduced punch, but also space, presence and impact within the sound. The opposite is true for the mid-highs and first treble. This area is predominant in the EA500 and together with a more neutral bass, it thins the initial midrange band, generating a thinner, but more excited, clear, vivid and energetic sound. The Simgot’s treble has a more realistic sparkle, not as subtle as the Kailua’s, and a more natural sound and timbre, but also more excited.
The soundstage is voluminous from the bass on the Kailua and this results in a wide and loud sound. The EA500s are more volatile and offer more foreground detail. They don’t have as much volume and depth, but their more splashy, ethereal, close and dynamic sound gives a sense of openness and movement that also enhances the soundstage. They are different propositions, but in terms of three-dimensional feel and separation, it seems that the scene is a little more eye-catching on the EA500s. Of course, there’s no doubting the better separation, cleanliness and distance between elements that the Simgot’s possess, as well as a darker background and better definition. Now, they also have a more critical and incisive sound that can produce a more fatiguing sensation compared to the softer Kailua. However, it should also be noted that the higher bass presence can be tiring for those who like a quieter, more neutral low end.
The Tripowin x HBB Kailua have a great profile, a good design, good construction, although the ergonomics are somewhat compromised for my particular physiognomy. There is no storage case and the cable is a bit simple for their price range. In my opinion, the response is better than the final sound, which is based on a quasi-excellent low end, powerful, voluminous, very fun and attractive. The mids are honeyed, warm, dense and musical. They lack a certain transparency, sparkle and dynamics, but are harmonious, full-bodied and balanced. The highs are in line with the mids, in terms of energy and smoothness, although there is a slight dip at a critical point that can affect the overall performance in some situations. On the other hand, the combination of the two dynamic drivers offers an improvement in treble extension, but does not make them gain in detail, resolution level or definition, where the Kailua presents itself with a more than acceptable technical ability, but which in no case is an analytical, critical or very detailed sound, but focuses on the mid and macro nuances.
Sources Used During the Analysis
- Tempotec BHD Pro.
- Burson Audio Playmate II.
- HiBy R3 Pro.