FAAEAL HIBISCUS REVIEW :
- Impressive soundstage
- Nicely balanced near neutral sound
- Natural Timbre
- Excellent construction
- Crazy great Litz cable
- Price value
- Slightly tamed bass and too soft attack from low to highs
- Average definition and imaging
- Timbre is a little dry
FAAEAL have been around since some time now, but are mostly recognize for the great value earbuds they create like Snow Lotus 1.0 and 2.0. Tough I’m a big fan of their earbuds, I never really care about the few older earphones they sell and let it pass under the radar.
Until they launch their latest ‘’flagship’’ model call the HIBISCUS.
When I see it on Aliexpress, the beautiful look of these iem caught my eye, but another word in product description caught my eyes too : DIAMOND LIKE CARBON DIAPHRAGM DYNAMIC DRIVER.
Now, i was hooked for real, because DLC dynamic drivers have tremendous potential for higher sound quality. Earphones like Moondrop Kanas use this drivers technology and the fact the Hibiscus sell for a fraction of the price of Kanas make it among the cheapest DLC iem you can buy.
DLC coating of speakers diaphragm is use to improve hardness and durability of diaphragm so it can benefit a faster transient response with lower distortion.
Priced around 60$, the Hibiscus sure promise very high value both in term of construction and sound. The fact it include a real high end 4 cores Litz cable too is extremely impressive.
Now let’s see in this review if it deliver incredible sound for incredibly low price.
You can buy the HIBISUCS directly from Faaeal Aliexpress HERE
Disclaimer : I wanna thanks FAAEAL for sending me this review sample free of charge. I contact them directly and choose to review this very earphones (and the Datura Pro earbuds). Faaeal do not suggest me to promote any of their product and as always, my review is fully independent, I have no affiliated link and nothing to win by publishing a biased review.
Vocalism Principle Dynamic
Diaphragm Diamond Like Carbon
UNBOXING is interesting and artsy, and even a little sexy! I think FAAEAL get inspire by the boxing and product presentation of Moondrop and I admit that I like it. It’s rare that we have something collectible in an earphone box, but the cardboard with a manga lady is sure appreciate and put a smile on your face. We do not feel as a consumer that just buy a 60$ pair of earphones with the Hibiscus unboxing, because the whole presentation is very luxurious and carefully put together. Apart of iem and (incredible) cable, we have a generous amount of silicone ear tips (7 pairs) and a cable clip. A carrying case or pouch would have been appreciate.
CONSTRUCTION is from another league for the price we pay, and more on par with 100-300$ iem. Not only the housing is made of half thick mirror metal and half thick glossy plastic, but it feel extremely sturdy too. For a single dynamic, the housing is quite big and have good weight to it. The 2pin female connector are well implemented and isn’t neither too thigh or too loose, just perfect.
CABLE is without a doubt the very best cable I ever have with any earphones whatever the price range. It’s a Real Litz high purity copper cable with a total of 224 cores of 5N copper purity. This isn’t a gimmick and the cable braids are thick and very soft. The construction is excellent with a metal gold plated jack and metal 2pin connector. The ear hook is smooth and very flexible. The cable do not create micro-phonic because of how flexible and soft it is. The fact is : this cable is sell around 50-100$. You can find very same one selling at 50$ in some Aliexpress store. I’m in passionate love with this Hibiscus cable and can’t recommend it enough. I use it with every 2pin iem i own, and the sound feel always fuller and lusher, unlike colder sound we can get from silver plated cable or unbalanced sound from bad OFC cable. I urge you to either buy the Hibiscus for cable alone or buy the cable for 17$ HERE.
DESIGN is elegant and simple. Even if the size of housing is rather big, the fit is ergonomic and very comfortable. Their no hard angle, strange curve or too small-too long nozzle, all fit smoothly. Only thing is that metal part can get cold in winter but it barely touch your ears anyway. I have no problem listening long time with the Hibiscus.
ISOLATION is phenomenal. I have an anecdote about how great the Hibiscus isolate from outside noise. I get attack by a little dog and never ever heard him barking at me, even if he was at 10 centimeter of distance, i just know about its existence when he begin to bite my shoes. When i put off my Hibiscus, i discover that this little berserk dog yap very loud for it’s size, so I conclude Hibiscus are among the best isolating iem on planet earth. Why? Well, it’s surely explain by the thick metal back plate as well as the fact it only have one front venting hole as large as a pin. This lack of back venting hole do permit a near inexistent sound leakage too.
DRIVEABILITY is enough easy at 32ohm impedance and rather high 110db of sensitivity. It’s not the easiest and will benefit from an enough powerful DAP, but i never feel the need of using a portable amp with the Hibiscus.
The Hibiscus aren’t easy to describe, which I consider a good thing because it proof it have a nuanced tuning and not a vulgar warm or bright V shape one. Whole sound is coherent and balanced, smooth with good resolution and big sound-stage. It do not wow you with super bass impact or treble sparkle and micro details. Instead, it have a near neutral sound that gradually lift mid range and lower treble. The highlight of Hibiscus sonority is the soundstage, transparency of timbre and natural tonal balance.
SOUNDSTAGE is very wide, tall and deep. Tough not particularly holographic in its openness, it sure sound out of your head and airy. To me this is the most positive aspect of Hibiscus.
IMAGING is average, you have good transparent layers of sound but will struggle to pin point instruments placement. We aren’t in sharp and vivid HD like spacial placement here, and mid range stole accurate definition of bass and highs instruments.
CLARITY too is rather average, in the sens that we have good resolution but poor definition of instrument details, impact and body.
TIMBRE is slightly bright, smooth, transparent with hint of dryness. We can call it thin too. It’s neither thick, organic, warm or cold.
BASS is flat and subdued by mid range that sit on it with all the weight it have. Extension is good, we have a little extra sub bass presence but control isn’t the best and separation with low and mid bass can sound muffled. Their not a lot of slam or punch, even if kick drum sound realist, the weight isn’t felt. So, yes, very flat indeed but not roll off or overly dry. It’s transparent and gently textured timbre help to offer natural transition from low to mids. Anyway, it’s not the most exciting bass response, and will fit slow music like Jazz, Classical, R&B, Pop better than fast rock, metal or electronic.
MID RANGE is quite forward and have good presence. It’s resolution is clear enough, thanks to its slightly bright timbre, but the definition of instrument impact and accuracy is very smooth so it’s not a very lively mid range. Vocal are a little dry and thin but do not sound recessed and have a good wideness. Strangely, the vocal can overshadow rest of instrument even if the transparency is good. As said, attack isn’t enough snappy to give realist impact to instrument like piano, violin and guitar. For saxophone or vocal, this is less problematic, but overall result still lack excitement and accuracy.
TREBLE is well extended and natural. It do not feel to spiky and pushed forwards and remind me a little the Final Audio E2000 kind of highs. Brilliance as well as sparkle isn’t really there, we do not have crisp detailed highs even if enough micro details is shown, it will never pop up in a vivid way. Delicate and relaxed, highs have good control which make percussion sound realist in timbre and presence, cause they stay still were they should : in the back of music. No splashiness, no harshness, a welcome hint of crunchiness and you got well balanced high range that are as much effortless than harmless.
SUB BASS : 7.5
MID BASS : 7.5
MID RANGE : 8/10
TREBLE : 8/10
SOUNDSTAGE : 9/10
IMAGING : 7/10
TIMBRE : 8/10
ATTACK-DECAY : 7/10
VS BLON BL-03
SOUNDSTAGE: Soundstage is very similar with both, but BL-03 is little wider while Hibiscus is little deeper. BASS is more U shape with BLON, its warmer, have more sub bass thickness which affect separation clarity of mid bass punch, Hibiscus have more transparent, flatter bass, notably less sub bass but better separation with mid bass so definition of kick is better. Hibiscus is less bassy rumbly, but do not warm as much lower mid range than BLON. MIDS are thicker and more forwards in vocal presence with BLON which is more opaque and have slightly more upper mids so its more textured too, here the HIBISCUS sound more transparent and clearer, but not as lively in presence and timbre than BLON, still its more articulate even if thinner in timbre. TREBLE too is more forwards with BLON, which make percussion attack more vivid but a little grainy too. HIB is again more controlled and balanced, keeping smoother tonal balance but lacking in sparkle decay compared to the BLON.
All in all, HIBISCUS is more neutral and balanced, with more transparency and better imaging while the BLON is more lively, fun, with lusher vocal and crispier treble.
VS TRN V90 :
SOUNDSTAGE is more out of your head, significantly taller and wider than the V90 but not has deep and clean.
IMAGING go for V90, which is way sharper and more articulate than darker Hibiscus. BASS of Hibiscus is thicker, weightier and juicier but lack transparency and separation with mid bass which sub bass warm, V90 is dryer and a little more textured and while the punch is thinner it still feel more controlled and clearer, making kick better separated. MID RANGE while sounding more natural and liquid with the Hibiscus, is darker and less clear than V90. Vocal sound wider but less forward than V90, as well, whole mid range is less detailed and energic, lacking definition in attack and sounding very mellow compared to more energic V90. TREBLE is smoother and little roll off compared to sharper and crisper V90 that certainly dig more microdetails than Hibiscus.
ALL in all, Hibiscus is smooth U shape sounding compared to more neutral and aggressive V90.
FAAEAL really take me by surprise with their first serious earphones offering and I must admit that level of overall value it offer is mind blowing.
The sound is maturely tuned, with good coherent balance, no harshness, natural transparent timbre and most of all a very big soundstage.
The construction is of extremely high quality for it’s price and include the best 2pin (or mmcx) cable I ever own.
The product presentation is professional and inspiring.
Yes, FAAEAL aren’t just good to tune earbuds, and the knowledge they earn by using multiple dynamic driver with earbuds begin to bearing fruit for their earphones conception as well.
I really hope it’s not the last iem FAAEAL will launch, and that next one will improve on the base of Hibiscus sound signature. Their place for amelioration even if Hibiscus sound decent for it’s price.