PROS: Lush timbre, great female vocal, good tonality, cohesive lively musicality, weighty attack, no boosted sibilance, nice packaging and accessories
CONS: Average technicalities, poor imaging and transparency, average resolution, muddy bass, not very extended-detailed-airy and sparkly treble, very thigh 2pin connector
SOUND VALUE: 7.8/10
WHIZZER has been around for years now with a line-up of mostly hybrid IEM. Their last offering, the HE01, is this time a single dynamic driver earphone. Due to the great reception, it got among audiophiles, I decide to test them to see if the hype is well deserved.
PACKAGING is very impressive for the asking price and more the type we would expect from a pricier product. The accessories are generous enough too and of good quality. It includes a good quality copper cable, a nice carrying case and 6 pairs of eartips.
CONSTRUCTION is mostly plastic apart metal nozzle and backplate metal ring. The choice of plastic is rather cheap and doesn’t promise extremely sturdy durability unlike UIEM made of molded resin plastic. If you drop them on hard floor or step on them, it will surely broke. Still, it doesn’t look cheap at all due to elegant design that will be hit or miss depending of your aesthetic taste. To my eyes, they look very good and don’t seem to attract attention too much due to their pale color and small size.
One drawback about design choice is the 2pin connector type, firstly they are extremely tight so it was already hard to use the stock cable with them, secondly, it has a shape that doesn’t match well 90% of 2pin cable on the market.
(using SMSL SU-9+SH-9, Audirect Beam2)
TONALITY is an energic W shape to V shape balance with well-rounded upper mids and rolled-off upper treble. Everything is warmish apart upper mids and mid-treble that jump at you while avoiding most sibilance issues.
While the HE01 doesn’t sound too dark or unresolved, it isn’t a crisp or clean-sounding IEM. The tonal balance is cohesive but not very articulate and bass-mids-highs lack proper separation. For those that need lotta air to breathe in their sound space, HE01 isn’t the answer. It’s thick and saturated with warmed mids and crunchy treble so to me these aren’t the most immersive sounding IEM with complex music, but with pop, electronic, R&B, and even some rock they are very addictive…so can we say they are still catchy thumpy pleasure? I think so.
BASS is more about body and slam than extension and separation. It has good chunky punch that will benefit rock. It have more thump and slam than rumble. Extension roll off before 20hz and can be muddy in articulation making sub and kick sometimes mixed-up and hollow. The electric bass line sound great, well-textured and bodied while toms lack natural extension resonance and acoustic bass lack transparency and natural extension.
MIDS are surely the best part of HE01, it’s full-bodied, natural and rich in timbre and forwards in presence without problematic sibilance. Female vocal sounds lush and inviting, wide and open but not transparent nor well centered-separated, it’s stick on top of darkish resolution. Clarity isn’t that good and the attack lack clean definition and edge. Tone of any instrument is realistic and well done, piano is weighty, full and natural but don’t have decay to it’s attack. Violin has a good body but no attack bite.
TREBLE is colored in a way that permits to extract a specific micro-details section and tame sibilance and harshness of upper highs without sacrificing too much in resolution. It’s the crunchy type, not very snappy and rarely sparkly. It can be a bit screechy at high volume with music tracks that have a lot going on in higher pitch. Percussions can get lost in the mix when too diversify in pitch. What the treble cruelly lack is air to expand in decay.
TECHNICALITIES are good enough for the price but nothing mind-blowing. Attack has a good lead but lacks the edge and can go rarely shouty when pushed too far or listening at high volume. Bass has a fast slam but lacks articulation and separation. Treble sustain is crunchy and doesn’t have natural decay-sparkle so hit-hat will sound a bit hot and high pitch percussion lacking brilliance and extension. Transient response is fast enough to permit a vivid weighty dynamic experience.
TIMBRE is very nice, natural, realistic but a hint rough in texture. Density is there, giving female vocal natural body. It sits between lushness and dryness.
SOUNDSTAGE is average. It has good wideness but still feels a bit in your head. It’s not very open due to a lack of deepness.
IMAGING is average and when the bass is very present it becomes hollow and muddy. Their no spacious instruments separation with the HE01, layers of sounds (while wide) are too close to each other and lack of clean clarity doesn’t permit to pinpoint the instruments precisely.
I really like the Whizzer HE01 because I’m a big fan of female singers and they are very well rendered both in timbre and wide presence here. While I know the HE01 will never show me something I wasn’t aware of in a music track, they will inflict a lively thumpy near mid centric dynamic musicality that makes my feet tapping. More musical than technical, the thick warm aggressive dynamic sound never goes overly harsh and avoids making me too distant from its musicality with a clinical or analytical approach.
If I think of the ARIA as a contemplation of the starry sky, the HE01 would be about undergoing a big firework in 3 primary colors. HE01 isn’t about Macro or Micro definition but about living the present moment in excitement. Superficial but charismatic, the HE01 delivers a clear enough sound with vivid weighty dynamic and lush timbre. Sometimes the bass is hit or miss, but when everything is a hit, the HE01 can be very impressive in musical liveliness.
Sidenotes: The HE01 doesn’t scale up with powerful amping or a better audio source, but a crisp clean source might help it’s resolution. Ear tips can inflict on the soundstage size but will not help imaging.
VS MOONDROP ARIA (80$)
To my ears, the HE01 sound like an ARIA on steroid with a lack of focus for accuracy (due to steroid use?). While ARIA chooses a smooth harman’ish W shape signature, the HE01 go all-in punchy W with more boosted mids and lower treble, still well rounded up but not as smooth and laid back as the calmer ARIA.
BASS doesn’t extend as deep as the ARIA but has a more energic weighty punch, yet less clean definition and transition to mid-range.
While sub-bass is notably rolled off, their some mid-bass slam bloom that can occur to mids, but it affects more the macro-resolution than mids presence which in fact gain some pleasant body warmth.
The MIDS are more forwards, but less well resolved and not as accurate and controlled in the attack. Compared to leaner mids of the ARIA, its border line shouty some time. Transparency, layering, and imaging are notably better with the ARIA as well.
TREBLE is where the technical limit of the HE01 is shown compared to the faster transient response of the ARIA. It’s less snappy and sparkly, can go splashy more easily than ARIA, and doesn’t deliver as many micro-details. In fast busy tracks, HE01 can go muddy while it’s isn’t the case with the ARIA. HE01 has more emphasis on lower&mid-treble too.
TIMBRE is thicker and more opaque with the HE01.
SOUNDSTAGE is wider-deeper with the ARIA.
IMAGING is more precise in positioning and complex in layering with the ARIA.
All in all, the ARIA is more balanced and refined in tonality as well as cleaner, clearer and more accurate, and articulate in technicalities. But it isn’t as fun and lively as the HE01, which will be a big deal for those searching for an IEM that wakes them up with a hefty dynamic sound.
VS FIIO FD1 (70$)
Again another punchy W to V shape signature with a brighter crisper tonality and tighter attack than warmer sloppier HE01.
FIIO FD1 is this time the more exciting version of a similar tuning, with sharper definition and more articulated hefty dynamic.
BASS is thicker and more extended with the FD1, as well as more textured and separated. Both are very punchy, but FD1 seem faster in attack and more refined in timbre.
MIDS are a bit more forwards too, but harsher than HE01. They are thicker, crisper, brighter. Definition-resolution seem better.
TREBLE of both is very similar, but the FD1 is more textured and better articulated.
All in all, FD1 is a brighter HE01 with a faster transient response that permit better layering-imaging.
Even if the HE01 offer average technicalities for its price, its tonality is both well balanced and musical. The HE01 is easy to love and its energetic lush sound is all but boring. While far from perfect and more aimed for audio enthusiast than critical audiophiles, the HE01 offer a refreshing take of V shape tuning by boosting the presence of mids and vocal without going too bright. For the female vocal lovers, the HE01 is sure a great bet, both timbre and tonality being spot on. But don’t expect crisp clarity and informative imaging with those, it’s really to enjoy music as it comes as a whole, not as a puzzle to unsolve.
I do think Whizzer have tremendous potential as an audio company and hope they continue to work on their single dynamic driver offering.
PS: Thanks to Whizzer for sending me the HE01 review sample after I contact them. As always, i’m fully independent and my goal in life isn’t to be a hysterical hyper so Big Respect to Whizzer for their courage too.